BOSTON - Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency and banned travel on roads as of 4 p.m. as a blizzard that could bring nearly 3 feet of snow to the region began to intensify.
Patrick said as the storm gains strength it will bring "extremely dangerous conditions" with bands of snow dropping up to two to three inches per hour at the height of the blizzard, prompting whiteout conditions.
Patrick said the travel ban will apply statewide and bans all motor vehicle traffic until it is lifted. The ban doesn't apply to public safety workers and utility workers.
The blizzard is forecast to last through midday on Saturday leaving up to 2 feet of snow in its wake. . Wind gusts could reach 65 mph. Widespread power failures are feared, along with flooding in coastal areas.
Secretary of Transportation Richard A. Davey announced that the last MBTA train would be leaving Boston at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. After that point, the MBTA will be shut down until further notice.
Amtrak also said its Northeast trains will stop running Friday afternoon.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino declared a snow emergency for the city starting at noon on Friday. He said all Boston public schools will be closed, a parking ban will be enforced, and businesses are being asked to keep their workforce limited to essential employees only.
The City of Boston has increased staff and patrols, especially within their Public Safety Department and several other departments, in order to ensure the safety of the community.
Menino has asked all residents to stay off roadways so that snowplows and city employees can properly do their jobs; however, if residents and non-residents need to travel in and out of the city, he is asking people to please use public transportation.
The Director of Public Works spoke briefly at the press conference and said the department is bracing for a 36-hour storm. At the storm's peak, the department will have 600 city and contracted pieces working to clear roadways and to ensure public safety.
In New England, it could prove to be among the top 10 snowstorms in history, and perhaps even break Boston's record of 27.6 inches, set in 2003, forecasters said. The last major snowfall in southern New England was well over a year ago - the Halloween storm of 2011.
Residents with weather-related questions can contact the mayor's 24-hour hotline. Downed trees and power lines can also be reported to the hotline at 617-635-4500.