State offices will be closed on Friday and Gov. Deval Patrick urged private businesses to do the same as a snow storm is expected to cover much of Greater Boston in more than a foot of snow overnight and early Friday.
“The point is to keep people off of the roads and indoors and away from the cold, which is extreme,” Patrick said during a news conference Thursday evening. He also cautioned people to stay indoors as the state is expected to experience “extreme” cold with wind chills in parts of the state to drop to -25 and -30 degrees.
Late Thursday afternoon the National Weather Service increased its snowfall estimates for Greater Boston. Boston may now get up to 18 inches of snow through late Friday when the storm is expected to finally come to an end.
As of 3 p.m., Chelsea had recorded 4.5 inches of snow and Topsfield was already covered in 12.2 inches of snow as of about 4:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. The heaviest snowfall was expected to hit the Boston area overnight Thursday into Friday and parts of the coast were expected to experience blizzard conditions.
While Logan Airport planned to remain open, state transportation officials said a ground stop would be put in effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday and last through noon on Friday.
While Mayor Thomas Menino said that Boston City Hall would be open on Friday, only essential city workers would be reporting to work. Boston Public Libraries will be closed on Friday as will Boston Public Schools. The Boston Centers for Youth & Families will open four regional centers (Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, Mission Hill and East Boston) from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday for children ages 7 and older.
The state’s trial court system said that courthouses throughout the state would open at noon on Friday if at all. An update would be provided on Friday.
About 700 pieces of snow removal equipment was put to work in Boston while state officials said they had about 2,400 pieces of equipment out across Massachusetts.
Earlier on Thursday, Gov. Deval Patrick allowed state employees to leave work at 3 p.m. and urged private businesses to do the same.
Many cities and towns, including Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, instituted snow emergencies on Thursday in anticipation of the storm covering much of Eastern Massachusetts in a foot of snow. Those snow emergencies and parking restrictions would be in place until further notice.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.