WAKEFIELD — This winter’s first significant snow storm couldn’t have come at a worse time for local commuters, who were greeted by several inches of the white stuff this morning.
At 8 a.m. this morning, the Boston office of the National Weather Service reported that travel was very treacherous and slow across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour were making it extremely difficult for road crews, along with poor visibility.
According to DPW Director Joseph Conway, 5.5 inches of snow had fallen in Wakefield as of 9 a.m. this morning.
DPW crews began pre-treating local streets at about midnight, Conway said, and all available DPW employees were called in at about 3 a.m. to begin plowing. Private contractors were called in at about 3:30 this morning. In all, about 61 pieces of equipment were out keeping the roads clear. A crew of six was tasked with keeping sidewalks clear as well as the areas around public buildings.
Conway said that the goal was to stay ahead of the morning commute, with the heaviest snowfall expected between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Police said that one vehicle did become stuck on Old Nahant Road near Oak Street at about 8 a.m., but added that the DPW did a good job keeping the roads clear.
Conway said that the snow was relatively light and fluffy, so there were no reports of tree damage or power outages. He said that if the rain/snow line had crept a little further north, the snow “would have been more like cement. So, we caught a little bit of a break.”
Wakefield Public Schools are closed today. School Superintendent Doug Lyons sent out an email to families at about 3 p.m. yesterday afternoon canceling school. “Due to the impending storm, we will have a traditional snow day tomorrow, Friday, January 7, 2022,” the email stated. “All of the Wakefield Public School offices will be closed. All school events and activities will be postponed.”
Town Hall is open today. There will be no trash pickup today. Friday trash will be picked up on Saturday.
The Senior Center will be closed today, Beebe Library will be open from 1 to 6 p.m., and Recreation Department activities scheduled at the Civic Center today are cancelled.
A parking ban was issued from midnight to 12 noon today.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged people to stay off the roads and take public transportation if possible, as the storm was forecast to drop as much as a foot of snow in coastal areas of the state.
There were already 12 inches of snow in Hebron, Connecticut and 10 inches in Burrillville, Rhode Island by 8 a.m., according to National Weather Service spotters.
Schools in Boston closed, and Providence, Rhode Island, public schools switched to distance learning, but New York City kept the nation’s largest public school system open.
“Children need to be in school. We don’t have any more days to waste” after the many closures and remote-learning days of the pandemic, said New York Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat dealing with his first major storm after taking office Saturday. He said he was also mindful of children who rely on in-school meals and working parents who can’t stay home.
Officials urged caution on the roads and reduced speed limits in some areas, but there were multiple reports of crashes across the region.
A commuter bus spun out of control and wound up blocking multiple lanes on the Massachusetts Turnpike just outside Boston early Friday. No injuries were reported, but the bus caused a huge traffic jam.
A tractor-trailer jackknifed in Greenwich, Connecticut, and forced a temporary closure of Interstate 95 southbound, state police said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday night declared a state of emergency for the entire state and delayed opening state offices for nonessential employees until 11 a.m.
The storm also affected coronavirus testing sites, many of which have been overwhelmed with long lines and waits for days. Some testing sites in Rhode Island delayed their openings until later in the day, when the storm was expected to start tapering off. Testing sites in Connecticut closed.
Philadelphia and Newark Liberty International airports reported many flights were canceled or delayed. Airports across the Northeast advised travelers to check with their airlines.
From late Thursday through Friday afternoon, 4 to 7 inches of snow were expected in parts of central and southern New Hampshire, and south-central and southwest Maine, according to the weather service.
The storm brought record-setting snow to some areas of the South on Thursday.
Nashville saw 6.3 inches of snowfall Thursday, shattering the city’s previous Jan. 6 record of 4 inches that had stood since 1977, the National Weather Service said. Freezing rain and sleet coated areas around the Tennessee-Alabama state border, said Scott Unger, a meteorologist for the service in Nashville.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear closed state offices at noon Thursday and later extended the closure through Friday.
The largest snowfall in Kentucky by Thursday evening was 8 to 9 inches in a swath from Elizabethtown to Bardstown and Nicholasville to Lexington, said meteorologist Brian Schoettmer of the weather service’s Louisville office. Eastern Kentucky recorded 6 to 8 inches, and far western Kentucky had about 3 inches.