BOSTON (WGGB/AP) — 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 on all state roads until the ban is lifted. The ban doesn’t apply to public safety workers and utility workers, or employees of other public and private sectors that provide critical services, like health care, hospitals, and fuel.
The Mass. Emergency Management Agency provides this explanation of the exceptions:
“There are exceptions for public safety vehicles and public safety workers, including contract personnel; public works vehicles and public works workers, including contract personnel; government officials conducting official business; utility company vehicles and utility workers; healthcare workers who must travel to and from work in order to provide essential health services; news media; travel necessary to maintain and deliver critical private sector services such as energy, fuel supplies and delivery, financial systems and the delivery of critical commodities; travel to support business operations that provide critical services to the public, including gasoline stations, food stores and hardware stores.”
With the ban, the Governor wants to “emphasize how critical it is that non-essential travel cease.”
The penalty during a State of Emergency, under the Civil Defense Act, is punishable by up to a $500 fine and/or one year in jail.
Richard Davey, secretary of transporation, says that the toll-takers on the Mass. Pike are being sent home at 2:00 p.m. He also says that 1,600 pieces of equipment ready to clear the state’s roadways, and he says that number will reach about 4,000.
One thousand National Guard members have already been mobilized, and Patrick expects that number to climb to about 5,000 as the storm continues to churn over the region.
Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard Sullivan says that his agency has been in constant contact with utility crews and that many of them are beginning to implement their storm response plans, which were required to be filed with the state 72 hours ahead of a storm’s arrival.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.