A preholiday snowstorm hit the Boston metropolitan area during Tuesday evening’s rush-hour commute, paralyzing traffic and causing an avalanche of cancellations, authorities said.
Some schools across the state dismissed students early and canceled activities, and Acting Governor William F. Galvin sent state workers home early, as the storm swept into Boston just before noon. The snowfall intensified during the evening commute, and dropped upwards of 8 inches in parts of the state.
The state Department of Transportation mobilized about 2,700 pieces of equipment statewide to plow highways and dispense salt and liquid de-icers, a spokesman said.
“The timing of the storm has made things a little bit more of a challenge in clearing roads,” said MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes. “Whereas the last storm came on the weekend, we did not see the high volumes on the highway that we would on a weekday, in particular the late afternoon or early evening when everyone's trying to make their way home.”
State trooper Reid Bagley said many accidents and spinouts were reported across the state, and traffic was slow-going, especially in the Greater Boston area, with some drivers delayed for hours.
“Everything was delayed because of the slow speed so rush hour will last longer tonight than it has in past nights,” Bagley said Tuesday night.
Route 2 westbound in Lexington was closed at about 8:45 p.m. due to multiple stuck vehicles, State Police said.
State Police reported tractor trailers jackknifed on I-90 westbound in Charlton and Westfield, and on the ramp from I-93 northbound to I-95 southbound in Reading over the course of the storm. A fourth truck got stuck on the ramp from I-290 eastbound to I-495 northbound in Marlborough, State Police said.
No significant injuries were reported during the evening commute, Bagley said.
The city of Boston dispatched close to 400 pieces of equipment to combat the weather, and city officials and police monitored conditions from the city’s traffic center and the Boston police unified command center, a spokeswoman for the mayor said.
“We started pretreating roads at 10 o’clock this morning, and we will continue working the roads through this evening to provide for a smooth commute tomorrow morning,” said Dot Joyce. “We knew this would be a difficult commute and it has proven to be exactly that.”
Joyce said the city is encouraging residents to assist in the cleanup by shoveling and de-icing the sidewalks in front of their homes to clear them for pedestrians.
No major weather-related incidents were reported in the city Tuesday, Joyce said.
The Boston public schools were dismissed at their normal times but canceled after-school athletic programs, Joyce said. All students were safely bused home from school by Tuesday evening, she said.
At Logan International Airport, flights were delayed and canceled due to the weather, although there were no unforeseen complications, Massport said.
“Like everyone else who lives in the area, we’re used to snow,“ said Matthew Brelis, a Massport spokesman.
The MBTA reported weather-related delays on bus routes, commuter rail lines, and the C, D, and E branches of the Green Line, spokeswoman Kelly Smith said.
A commuter rail train derailed in Fitchburg just after 8 p.m., the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad said.
The train was slowly pulling into the Fitchburg station when it skidded on the snowy tracks into a stopper at the end of the line, knocking the locomotive’s wheels off the tracks, MBCR spokesman Scott Farmelant said. Over 40 people were onboard but no injuries were reported.
Another slow-moving commuter rail train hit a car at a crossing on North Main Street in Cohasset, police said. No one was injured in the crash, which Sergeant Michael Lopes said was believed to be weather-related.
After consulting with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and other state agencies, Galvin ordered all nonessential state employees to leave work at 1:30 p.m. He also urged private employers to release their workers early.
Just after 7:20 p.m., the National Weather Service in Taunton reported 4.7 inches of snow had fallen at Logan Airport and 5.5 inches had fallen in West Roxbury.
As of 10 p.m., when the storm was beginning to exit the region, the highest snowfall reported by the weather service was 8.1 inches in Framingham. No updated totals for Boston were available at that time.
What was likely the heaviest band of snow crossed the region at about 7:30 p.m., dumping snow at a rate of up to two inches an hour, said weather service meteorologist Matt Doody.
Wednesday is expected to be dry but windy, with a high temperature of 33 degrees, Dunten said. Gusts may reach 25 miles per hour, she said.
Globe correspondents Jasper Craven and Melissa Hanson and Martin Finucane of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Nicholas Jacques can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.