City and state leaders, as well as weather officials, continued to warn residents to stay off of the roads and indoors as a “storm of major proportions” has moved into the area.
The snow started falling about 9 a.m. in many Eastern Massachusetts cities and towns, but the heaviest snowfall wasn’t expected until later today.
“This is a storm of major proportions. Stay off the roads. Stay home. Let the public works crews do their job in the next 48 to 72 hours,” Mayor Thomas Menino said at an afternoon news conference Friday.
Menino added that officials were pleased with the amount of people who took seriously the warnings about the storm and stayed off of the roads and stayed home today instead of coming into the city for work.
“This is a very large and powerful storm; however, we are encouraged by the number of people who stayed home today and who moved their cars off of the streets,” he said.
The National Weather Service updated its forecast at about 10 a.m. and continued to call for more than two feet of snow in Boston. A blizzard warning is in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday.
“Whiteout conditions are anticipated as roads become snow covered by this evening’s commute,” the NWS said in a weather statement.
The MBTA and Commuter Rail is ending service at 3:30 p.m.
Gov. Deval Patrick today declared a state of emergency as of noon. He also signed an executive order that bans travel on roadways as of 4 p.m., except for emergency vehicles and people traveling to provide critical private services.
“By all accounts ... this is going to be a very serious weather event. If we get the amount of snow forecasted recovery will be slow. People should be prepared for that,” Patrick said. “We are trying to be and will be flexible. The point is we have to have as many people off of the roads as possible if they do not have a role in trying to keep people safe.”
Forecasters said the storm will last through much of Saturday and city officials asked for people to be patient as they worked to clear roads.
“It’s going to be a long storm. We ask people to set their expectations … we can’t get out there and do everything immediately. We ask for patience and stay home and stay warm,” said Joanne Massaro, the city’s public works commissioner.