Saying that the approaching winter storm is going to be "quite a bit stronger and faster," Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday let non-emergency state employees leave work at 3 p.m. and encouraged private businesses to do the same.
City and school officials from Greater Boston canceled school for Wednesday and instituted parking bans on major roadways as an overnight storm approached the area.
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Taking no chances, many cities and town declared snow emergencies and parking bans hours before the first flakes fell.
Parking bans and snow emergencies took effect Tuesday evening in many communities including in Boston, Cambridge, Medford, Somerville and Quincy.
Somerville said in an alert that its snow emergency went into effect at 3 p.m. Parking is allowed on the odd side of the street only, unless otherwise posted. Municipal parking lots and some school lots will be available for parking, the city said. Somerville public schools were also closed Wednesday.
In Cambridge, a snow emergency and parking ban goes into effect at 8 p.m.Medford said that a snow emergency goes into effect at 6 p.m.
Patrick also postponed his scheduled State of the Commonwealth address set for 7 p.m. Tuesday.
On Monday, the forecast called for Greater Boston to receive only up to 4 inches of snow, but those estimates were soon increased and the forecast on Tuesday called for Boston to get up to 8 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.
Snow showers and blowing snow were expected to remain in the area until about 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Areas south of Boston and on Cape Cod were expected to get about a foot of snow.
In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh met with his cabinet and in an afternoon news conference announced that Boston Public Schools would close Wednesday and that a parking ban would take effect at 6 p.m.
"Our city is prepared. Our crews are ready. I just ask you once again for all of the public's cooperation so that we can get all of our crews out there to help clean up the streets," Walsh said.
More than 500 pieces of snow removal equipment were being sent out onto Boston's streets Tuesday night, Walsh said. Trucks began pre-treating the roadways at 1 p.m. Tuesday and Boston police were helping school buses get home ahead of the storm and anticipated traffic.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.