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Boston 'ready to go' for blizzard conditions, mayor says

Posted by Metro Desk  December 26, 2010 12:16 PM

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Mayor Menino said the city is “ready to go” and will deploy 500 pieces of snow-fighting equipment once the Christmas blizzard arrives later today. He also warned residents that the city will ticket those who do not clear their sidewalks or shovel snow back into plowed streets.

“All of the departments are mobilized,’’ Menino said at a City Hall press conference this morning. “We are ready to go.’’

A snow emergency takes effect at 3 p.m. today, banning on-street parking in most neighborhoods around the city. For downtown residents, Menino said that some parking garages will be offering reduced rates during the hours of the snow emergency.

He said the city expects the worse of the storm to arrive around 11 p.m. and continue through overnight until about 4 a.m. He asked the public to contact the city hall emergency center at 617-635-4500 if they see power lines down, trees branches falling or unusually dangerous snow conditions.

Governor Deval Patrick is expected to meet the press at noon today at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker in Framingham. Massachusetts State Police are asking drivers to stay off the roads, but if they must drive to make sure they have a powered-up cellular phone on hand for emergency calls.

National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Dunham said this afternoon that the weather pattern is following the predicted behavior – it is off the North Carolina coast and strengthening as it heads towards and into New England.

“So, basically we are looking at Boston, the western suburbs back down toward Providence and out to Worcester are going to be feeling the greatest impact of 15 to 20 inches of snow,’’ Dunham said.

He said travelers should be off the roads – if possible – by 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. today. Winds will increase, the volume of snow will start increasing and both visibility and road conditions will start to deteriorate dramatically after mid-afternoon, he said.

“We’ve got to keep the roads clear and let the road crews do their jobs,’’ Dunham said.

Dunham said the NWS now believes it’s possible the winds that will create blizzard like conditions in the region will be somewhat weaker in Bristol and Plymouth counties. He also said the current fear about coastal flooding may ease depending on the track the storm takes over the next several hours.

But he cautioned along in those counties and along the coast, the weather pattern will still be turbulent and the cause of localized flooding, power outages, and bad road conditions.

Dunham said the region will have to deal with the aftereffects of the blizxard, but he said he does not the storm to cripple the region.

“I wouldn’t anticipate this causing days worth of problems,’’ he said, adding there is no storm in the region’s future through New Year’s Day.

Cambridge this morning declared a snow emergency parking ban effective at 2 p.m. today. Parking is banned on streets where snow emergency signs are posted, according to Cambridge police.

More details can be found at the city's website and at the city's department of public works websites.

Menino said the city is asking employers to use staggered opening times on Monday.

“I ask everyone to cooperate with us,’’ the mayor said. “It’s a serious situation, but if everybody cooperates, we will get through it.’’

State Police said they have cancelled all discretionary time off for troopers and have pre-positioned special vehicles – built “like small tanks’” – to the South Shore and Greater Boston, instead of leaving them at the Framingham headquarters.

Two others are available at the Quabbin Reservoir in the central part of the state and at Westover Air Base for use in western Massachusetts.

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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