Snow started to fall on Friday morning in what appears to be the first big winter snowstorm of the year, with some areas looking up to 8 inches before it’s all said and done.
Heavy snowfall was already visible in Worcester and Bridgewater from 5 a.m. Visibility was considerably reduced.
The storm is expected to spoil the trip on Friday morning. A dozen accidents have already been reported and snow has started to accumulate on roads such as Highway 24 in Bridgewater. Route 128 and Route 1 are also both messy, with snow falling at the rate of an inch per hour.
âStay away from them if you can,â Jonathan Gulliver, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said of state highways Friday morning. “It’s going to be a tough day on the roads.”
He said conditions will be slippery for a while even after the snow stops falling until the 2,500 pieces of MassDOT equipment are able to clear the roads completely.
A 40 mph speed restriction is now in place on the Massachusetts Turnpike in far western Massachusetts.
Dozens of flights have already been canceled in the northeast, including a handful at Boston Logan International Airport.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker asked non-emergency state workers to stay home on Friday and asked residents to stay off the roads and use public transportation when possible. The city of Boston has canceled the school, along with hundreds of other districts.
Hourly Snowstorm Forecast in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said it plans to deploy about 2,500 plows, front loaders and other equipment for the storm, Baker said, and they have up to 3,900 available.
Public works ministries are ready
Brockton had about 140 plow trucks – owned by the city and contractors – ready to hit the road.
Plow driver Ed Johnson has said some of his workers have COVID-19, but the job will be done.
âIt’s going to be a bit tricky, a few machines can be seated with no one in the seats, but we’ll get there,â Johnson said.
We start 2022 with the first tillable snow of the season, and meteorologist Pamela Gardner says it will be âfunâ.
Some public works departments are facing potential staff shortages due to COVID calls.
In Foxboro, DPW director Chris Gallagher said about seven workers had been absent over the past week due to COVID. But Gallagher said most of those workers would come out of quarantine on Friday.
In addition to dozens of their own trucks, Foxboro also has a steady fleet of around 20 contractors ready to go.
âMost of our routes are covered by more than one truck. Some with two, three, some with four, so we’re just going to take trucks off different routes and fill in the gaps, âsaid Gallagher.
Pandas, sloth bears, and elephants at the Smithsonian National Zoo were among the animals that spent a day on the grounds frolicking in the snow.
Brutus Cantoreggi is a director of public works at Franklin and also juggles plow operators. They face a 30% shortage of workers due to the pandemic, down from about 11 people.
He said it was also difficult to find drivers with a CDL license.
âEveryone is looking for pilots, we were looking for pilots even before COVID happenedâ¦ It means it’s going to be difficult, much harder to do,â Cantoreggi said.
COVID-19 test site closures
The state warns COVID-19 test sites could close due to weather, and some have already announced closures. If you need to take a test or make an appointment, you are warned to contact your testing site in advance or to try to get a quick home test.
Traveling by car or train
The heaviest snowfall is expected until 9 a.m. The state asks drivers to keep the roads clear as much as possible and asks residents to take public transportation if possible.
MBTA officials have warned the system could be affected by the storm, although no changes were announced. The teams will be in suburban train stations to remove snow and apply salt and sand.