Blizzard warning expanded to Boston, eastern Mass., all of Rhode Island

The storm has become a verified blizzard in Boston.

Boston-02/09/2017 A blizzard pounded Massachusetts, as commuters struggle with th wind and snow as they walk to the North Station entrance. JohnTlumacki/Globe Staff (metro)
Commuters walking to Boston's North Station struggle with the wind and snow, as a blizzard pounded Massachusetts on Thursday. –JohnTlumacki / The Boston Globe

Update: The storm officially reached blizzard conditions Thursday afternoon in Boston:

Original post below

As snow and wind continue to hammer New England, the National Weather Service has expanded its blizzard warning Thursday afternoon to encompass the entire Massachusetts coast and Rhode Island. The warning will remain in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday.

Blizzard warnings are triggered by forecasts of sustained or gusting winds of at least 35 mph, in addition to falling snow. According to the NWS, that combination can result in dramatically reduced visibility.

The agency advised local residents to avoid travel.

In an updated forecast early Thursday afternoon, the NWS estimated accumulations of 12-18 inches of snow in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, along with wind gusts up to 45 mph. According to the agency, the snow is expected to fall heavily through the afternoon before tapering off to snow showers in the evening.

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In eastern Massachusetts, the snow may fall at a rate of two to three inches per hour Thursday afternoon, officials said. The agency also said the strong winds may result in power outages in parts of Rhode Island and the Cape.

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