A pre-holidays snowstorm hit Metro Boston during Tuesday evening’s rush-hour commute, paralyzing traffic and causing an avalanche of cancellations, authorities said.
Some schools throughout the state dismissed students early and canceled activities, and acting governor William F. Galvin sent state workers home, as the storm swept swept into Boston just before noon. The snowfall intensified during the evening commute, and up to eight inches was expected before winding down around midnight.
The state Department of Transportation mobilized about 2,700 pieces of equipment statewide to plow highways and dispense salt and liquid de-icers, a spokesman said.
“The timing of the storm has made things a little bit more of a challenge in clearing roads,” said MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes. “Whereas the last storm came on the weekend, we did not see the high volumes on the highway that we would on a weekday, in particular the late afternoon or early evening when everyone's trying to make their way home.”
State trooper Reid Bagley said many accidents and spinouts were reported across the state, and traffic was slow-going, especially in the Greater Boston area, with some drivers delayed for hours.
“Everything was delayed because of the slow speed so rush hour will last longer tonight than it has in past nights,” Bagley said Tuesday night.
State Police reported a tractor trailer jackknifed on I-90 westbound in Charlton at about 4:30 p.m., and another one on the ramp from I-93 northbound to I-95 southbound in Readingat about 5 p.m. A third truck got stuck on the ramp from I-290 eastbound to I-495 northbound in Marlborough, State Police said.
No significant injuries were reported, Bagley said.
The city of Boston dispatched close to 400 pieces of equipment to combat the weather, and city officials and police monitored conditions from the city’s traffic center and the Boston police unified command center, a spokeswoman for the mayor said.
“We started pretreating roads at 10 o’clock this morning, and we will continue working the roads through this evening to provide for a smooth commute tomorrow morning,” said Dot Joyce. “We knew this would be a difficult commute and it has proven to be exactly that.”
No major weather-related incidents were reported in the city Tuesday evening, Joyce said.
The Boston public schools were dismissed at their normal times but canceled after-school athletic programs, Joyce said. All students were safely bused home from school by Tuesday evening, she said.
At Logan International Airport, flights were delayed and canceled due to the weather, although there were no unforeseen complications, Massport said.
“Like everyone else who lives in the area, we’re used to snow,“ said Matthew Brelis, a Massport spokesman.
The MBTA reported weather-related delays on bus routes, commuter rail lines, and the C, D, and E branches of the Green Line, spokeswoman Kelly Smith said. The largest delay of the evening was due to a non-weather-related medical emergency at Government Center on the Blue Line, she said.
After consulting with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and other state agencies, Galvin ordered all nonessential state employees to leave work at 1:30 p.m. He also urged private employers to release their workers early.
As of 7:20 p.m., the National Weather Service in Taunton reported 4.7 inches of snow had fallen at Logan Airport, though totals in the rest of the city were likely higher.
The highest snowfall in recorded in the state at that time was 6.3 inches in West Peabody, the weather service said.
What was likely the heaviest band of snow crossed the region at about 7:30 p.m., dumping snow at a rate of up to two inches an hour, said weather service meteorologist Matt Doody.
Meteorologist Stephanie Dunten predicted Boston and the North Shore would see six to eight inches of snow by the end of the storm, which was expected to wrap up by midnight.
Wednesday is expected to be dry but windy, with a high temperature of 33 degrees, Dunten said. Gusts may reach 25 miles per hour, she said.