WAKEFIELD — By 1 p.m. yesterday, cars heading into Reading’s Market Basket parking lot snaked all the way out along Walkers Brook Drive.

Inside the store, food and non-grocery items — from milk and spring water to Ice Melt, flashlight batteries and shovels — were being grabbed from shelves and rung up at all the cash registers.

This morning, Al Davis, who manages the store, said the shopping situation was “out of control.”

Shaw’s Supermarket on Water Street also saw an onslaught of shoppers this morning. Store Manager James Menter said, “It’s been pretty busy.”

One Market Basket shopper said he was preparing for the “monster storm” heading to the Boston area over the next 36 hours.

“It’s supposed to be a doozie,” he said, adding that he was taking no chance of being without food or water. “Could be that the stores will have to close for at least a day, judging from what I’m hearing.”

What the shopper was hearing was that the region can expect up to three feet of snow between late today and into Wednesday morning along with hurricane force winds that Department of Public Works Director Richard Stinson could top 75 mph.

Some shoppers could be heard discussing the Blizzard of ‘78, the snowstorm to end all snowstorms. That nor’easter shut down highways and secondary roads, shuttered schools for a week and caused millions to lose power. Some grocery chains were accused of price gouging.

Because of the impending storm, the school board meeting scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 at the WCAT studio on Hemlock Road has been canceled. The meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m., also at the WCAT studio.

Stinson said this morning that plans are underway to prepare for the storm, including the fueling of trucks, getting the plows hooked up and ready to go and filling trucks with sand and salt. He wants everyone to stay off the roadways as much as possible so plowing can be done in an efficient, unhampered manner. He also warned vehicle owners that their cars will be towed if in the way of plows and sanders and no time will be wasted on trying to track down owners to get them to move.

“Driving conditions will be bad,” he said. “Everyone should just stay home.”

Stinson also said that he had lined up a tree company to assist the DPW in the event multiple trees and branches come down in the storm. Another company has been enlisted to help the town in the event of a water main break.

“We’ll have everyone out plowing and no one will be pulled off the effort,” said Stinson.

“Beginning Tuesday, we’ll go on a holiday trash and recycling pick-up schedule,” said Stinson. “Trash and recyclables will be picked up one day later than normal.” He added that the DPW’s website will be updated with notices concerning the storm.

“I’ll be meeting with all supervisors and department heads later today,” said Stinson. “We’ll be checking generators and water and sewer stations.”

Stinson is asking residents to clear fire hydrants and catch basins of snow and to call 781-246-6314 (only in emergency situations during the storm) or 911.

Fire Chief Michael Sullivan stood behind Stinson and also urged people to stay put during the storm so that clean-up crews can work effectively.

He also cautions people not to use candles for light in the event power goes out due to possibility of fire.

“I’m also warning people to use generators outside only,” he said. “Generators should not be operated anywhere inside, not even inside a garage.”

Sullivan also asked that residents find the nearest fire hydrants closest to their homes and shovel them out as soon as the storm subsides.

“Most important is to stay off the roads,” he said. “Listen to what public officials have to say and follow their orders.”

Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department General Manager Peter Dion said all of his crews would be ready to go out. The number he provided for emergency calls is 781-246-6363.