By Annie Linskey
BOSTON - Gov. Deval Patrick asked Massachusetts drivers to stay off streets and highways today, amid a blizzard that is forecast to bury parts of the state in the deepest snowfall in almost two years.
“If I have to order the roads to be closed, I will,” Patrick said yesterday at a news briefing in Boston. The storm will be “swift, heavy and dangerous,” the governor said.
“Safe travel will be nearly impossible” at some point during the storm, said Patrick, a Democrat re-elected in 2010.
Boston may receive 24 inches of snow as the coastline is pounded by high waves and winds gusting as high as 50 miles an hour, according to the National Weather Service. New York City may get 10 inches of snow and blizzard conditions are likely to envelop Long Island’s Suffolk County, said Tim Morrin, a weather service forecaster.
Patrick, 56, ordered the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to close Boston’s subway, while commuter trains operating in eastern portions of the state will shut down, both at 3:30 p.m. today. At the briefing, he urged schools to close and nonessential workers to stay home as the storm arrives.
“We are expecting a severe weather event,” Patrick said. “Mother Nature is very unpredictable.”
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino canceled school today, citing the “historic” storm heading for New England’s biggest city.
In Rhode Island, independent Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee told reporters yesterday that all nonessential state workers should stay home today. Snow is forecast to begin in southern New England by mid-morning.
While Connecticut’s government will be open today, nonessential employees should stay home, Governor Dan Malloy said yesterday in a statement. At a news briefing, he said state operations probably will close down early today.
The storm may be “devastating” for coastal residents who are still recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in October, the Democrat said. The last major snowfall in the region occurred in October 2011.
In New York City, residents were advised to avoid unnecessary driving during the storm, which is forecast to drop as much as 14 inches of snow in Central Park. City Hall and public schools will be open, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.