SHREWSBURY, Mass. — Shrewsbury Weather Analyst Jim Arnold said that Friday's blizzard will be more than just a hassle for Central Massachusetts residents -- it carries real risks to life and limb.
"Wind chills will be extreme, and there is the real danger of hypothermia for anyone out in those conditions for and extended period of time," Arnold said. "There will be some tree damage in central Massachusetts which will contribute to some potentially widespread and extensive power outages, but the worst of the power problems will be along the coast."
Motorists will face white-out conditions and deep snow, and Arnold said he is "increasingly concerned about motorists becoming stranded during the height of the storm Friday night and early Saturday morning."
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning from 6 a.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday, and is urging people to stay indoors.
Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday urged schools close in advance of the storm, and ordered non-emergency state workers to work from home.
Arnold said snow will start around dawn and remain light in the morning. Snow and wind intensity will increase in the early afternoon.
"By the afternoon commute it will be quite stormy as snow and wind will be increasing in intensity. Heavy snow and high winds will continue throughout the night and we will likely see a period or two of thundersnow," Arnold said.
Arnold has said that Central Massachusetts should prepare for more than 24 inches of snow, with some areas reaching depths of 30-36 inches.
Friday night winds will blow between 25-35 mph, with gusts possibly approaching 60 mph.
"Drifting will become a problem as the light and fluffy snow will be easy to blow around. In exposed areas there is the possibility of some drifts reaching six to ten feet in depth," Arnold said. "Road crews will be hard pressed to keep up with this storm."
National Grid has begun assigning crews in advance of the storm.
“We continue to monitor the weather and are taking action now to be able to respond quickly and safely to potential outages that could occur. Our pre-planning activities are in anticipation of a very damaging storm,” said Kathy Lyford, vice president of National Grid's New England operations, in a statement. “We take the safety of the public and our employees very seriously. We are reaching out to our life support and critical care customers and have plans in place to provide regular updates for customers.”
The Central MA Regional Public Health Alliance is urging all local residents to take precautions, including planning an evacuation route and emergency communication plan, prepare an emergency kit for people and pets, and to use caution while operating generators.
Download the alliance's safety tips at the link below.
When will it all end? Arnold is predicting that the heaviest snow will be over by mid-to-late Saturday morning, and end completely around noon. Heavy winds, including gusts up to 50 mph, may continue
"Take this storm very seriously," Arnold said. "We have not seen anything like this for 35 years, and that means that all of our population that is 40 or so years old and younger is inexperienced with this kind of threat. Please be careful."
Attached: Storm Safety Tips (storm.doc.pdf)