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Gov. Baker, Mayor Walsh To Residents: Please Stay Off Roads Tuesday

BOSTON (CBS) -- With a major winter storm approaching, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has asked citizens to stay off the roads Tuesday.

The storm is expected to start between 5 and 7 a.m. and, at its peak Tuesday afternoon, could produce snowfall rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour.

Gov. Charlie Baker
Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to reporters Monday. (WBZ-TV)

"If people need to travel, as we said before, we would prefer that they take public transportation for three reasons. The first is two to four inches of snow an hour on the roads is a lot of snow. You combine that with 40 to 50 mile per hour winds and the plows trying to get out there and plow the roads, you're creating a really difficult and somewhat unsafe situation for drivers. If people need to get somewhere, we would urge them to take public transportation and they need to recognize and understand they may get up and look out the window and not see much," Governor Baker said Monday.

State offices will be closed Tuesday for non-emergency, executive branch employees.

"But the most important point I can make there is once it starts to snow, every report we've had on this is that it's going to snow hard and fast for a long period of time. It will create whiteout conditions and it will create issues for people who are there trying to plow the roads and keep the streets clean. And to the extent people can stay off the roads, it would be great," Gov. Baker added.

High wind gusts and coastal flooding are expected with this storm. Officials also expect power outages, especially along the South Shore, Cape Cod and the islands.

Utility companies in the Commonwealth are also on alert, positioning crews in strategic areas in the event of outages. Officials say if the power does go out, there may be significant delays as crews need the winds to drop below 35 miles per hour before they can make repairs.

If you should lose power during the storm, the Governor's office advises people to visit for safety tips from the Department of Fire Services on home generators, carbon monoxide and candle safety tips.

The MBTA is planning to run its regular weekday schedule tomorrow. However, the T's ferry service and the Mattapan Line service will be suspended Tuesday. Extra buses will be used to handle that traffic.

MBTA officials say they have invested some $100 million in snow removal equipment, in preparation for storms like the one predicted for Tuesday.

The commuter rail will run on a severe weather schedule. Commuters are asked to check the T's website to see how their trains will be impacted.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will have some 4,000 pieces of equipment on state roads, once the storm gets going.

HOV lanes will not be opened Tuesday. Tandem trucks and specially permitted vehicles will be restricted from travelling on the Massachusetts Turnpike, as of 7 a.m. Tuesday.

All state officials urge the public to be patient and safe, checking on elderly neighbors and keeping snow from car and home heating exhaust vents.

The state Emergency Operations center at Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Framingham will help monitor the weather situation.

Gov. Baker said his office is in contact with the National Weather Service, the Massachusetts State Police and MassDOT and will provide updates as the weather situation warrants.

Later Monday afternoon, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that a snow emergency has been declared in the city, beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Parking will be prohibited on all main roads and thoroughfares.

City public safety workers and those involved with snow removal will be on duty Tuesday. Non-essential city workers will have get a day off.

Discounted parking garages will open at 5 a.m. Residents are advised to consult for more information.

Boston public schools will be closed Tuesday, due to the impending storm. A decision about Wednesday will be made sometime Tuesday.

The mayor said they are expecting up to 12 inches of snow in Boston. But with the expected winds, snow drifts as high as three feet could develop in some parts of the city.

Mayor Walsh said city officials are looking at another storm next Sunday, which could bring an additional 3 to 5 inches.

When comparing Tuesday's storms to the winter of 2015, the mayor said there are differences.

"Most of our storms in 2015, most of our storms happened on the weekend, so it was easier to manage the storm. We had Friday, Saturday, Sunday to kind of clean up after the storm. This happens at rush hour, so it's a difficult storm. The only difference between this one and the last one, the last one we were expecting a bigger storm. We always knew right to the very end and the meteorologists were saying it could change and it could change at the very end. This storm that's coming, we are going to get hit," Mayor Walsh said.

The city's Department of Public Works will have some 780 pieces of equipment to move snow off the roadways, with over 36,000 tons of salt available to treat roads.

Officials will be looking out for homeless people, and ask the public to call 911 if they see the homeless out in the elements.

City trash and recycling pickup will take place Tuesday, beginning at 5 a.m.

The mayor asks people to call the city's 311 phone and app for any non-emergency issues.

The city of Boston has a $23 million snow removal budget, according to Mayor Walsh. There is approximately $5 million remaining to cover this event.

The mayor reminds everyone that the space saver rule does not go into effect until the snow starts falling.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe reports

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