An icy winter storm marched across Massachusetts Friday, pushing temperatures well below freezing and leading to hundreds of car crashes on slick roadways, including one fatality, officials said.
State Police said they had responded to over 200 crashes, starting from about 5 p.m. Thursday, when the temperatures started to drop, through Friday afternoon.
“Patrols were going from one crash to another,” State Police said on Twitter.
A Worcester man was killed in a crash with a tractor trailer on Interstate 495 north in Chelmsford, State Police said.
Boston police responded to 48 crashes across the city between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Friday, according to Sergeant Detective John Boyle, the department’s chief spokesman.
Elsewhere, a car overturned on Route 2 eastbound in Belmont and caught fire around 5 p.m., but there were no injuries, local police said.
There was little hope conditions would improve anytime soon on Friday evening.
A winter weather advisory remained in effect until 10 p.m. for much of Massachusetts, all of Rhode Island, and northern Connecticut, according to the National Weather Service.
“Take it slow if you’re traveling. Expect icy/slick roads due to a flash freeze,” forecasters said on Twitter.
Precipitation in the Boston area was expected to change from sleet to snow and wind down overnight, giving way to clearing skies and more bitter cold on Saturday, forecasters said.
As temperatures continue to drop overnight, “any water or slush on the roads that hasn’t frozen over already, it’s going to,” said Andrew Loconto, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norton.
“The precipitation should come to an end by about 1 or 2 in the morning across southeastern New England,” Loconto said, leading into a “cold, dry weekend.”
Saturday night was expected to be clear but dangerously frigid, with temperatures near Boston in the single digits and wind chills below zero, according to the weather service.
“It’s going to be quite cold, also fairly blustery,” Loconto said.
Friday’s frigid weather began overnight with rain and temperatures in the 40s. But they dropped dramatically by morning, into the 20s in some spots, resulting in ice-coated highways,
The freeze first covered New Hampshire and Northern New England and by Friday morning had overtaken most of central and northeastern Massachusetts.
Public school districts across Eastern Massachusetts were closed Friday, and a handful were planning early release for students and staff.
Governor Charlie Baker ordered “non-emergency state employees” to stay home, and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles cancelled road tests Friday as conditions worsened.
Treacherous driving conditions led to a tragedy in Chelmsford.
A Worcester man was killed in a crash on Interstate 495 around 6:30 a.m., when his car collided with a tractor-trailer, State Police said.
Elmer Rivas, 48, was driving a 2013 Hyundai Elantra when he was struck by a tractor-trailer, officials said in a statement. Rivas was declared dead at the scene.
State Police said the driver of the tractor-trailer, a 39-year-old man from Amherst, Nova Scotia, had no injuries.
“The tractor trailer operator explained that Rivas was traveling in the left lane and tried to take the exit cutting off the truck,” the statement said.
The incident remains under investigation by State Police.
In Littleton, two crashes were reported on the same interchange on Interstate 495 several hours apart. The second took place around 1:30 p.m. involved a fuel truck that caused a spill that forced the closure of the Mile 78 ramp, officials said. The road reopened several hours later.
Crashes were also reported in Boston, Beverly, Wellesley, Lexington, Bedford, Townsend, Georgetown, and Burlington, officials said. Four crashes were reported in Tyngsborough and two in Ipswich, including a single-car crash caused when the vehicle trying to make a turn slid into a tree, according to a spokesman for local officials.
A spokesman said three crashes also occurred within an hour Friday afternoon in East Bridgewater.
In Sturbridge, a tractor trailer caught fire on Interstate 84 westbound, delaying traffic for about 2 miles, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Two vehicles were towed from a crash on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Weston, but there were no injuries, State Police said.
In Wellesley, there was a single-car crash Friday evening on Route 9 westbound near the Route 16 overpass, police reported.
This number is most definitely low because reports are still being written and entered, but since 5 pm last night our Troopers have responded to well over 200 crashes with either injuries or property damage, including one fatality. Patrols were going from one crash to another. pic.twitter.com/YFrm12MHrW— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) February 4, 2022
Speeds on the Massachusetts Turnpike remained lowered to 40 miles an hour into Friday night, according to MassDOT. Tractor-trailers, tandem trucks, and special-permit vehicles were banned from the highway, MassDOT said.
MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said on Twitter that highway crews had difficulty keeping up with a storm that was “changing from rain to snow and back again, which reduces the effectiveness of treatment.” He asked residents to avoid driving, if they could, and to drive slowly and cautiously if they had to go out.
MassDOT had roughly 850 pieces of equipment on state roads early Friday afternoon and had increased that number to 1,487 about 4 p.m., the agency said. As of 8:20 p.m., MassDOT reported 1,644 pieces of equipment addressing snow and ice conditions.
@MassDOT crews are dealing with a challenging storm that is changing from rain to snow and back again which reduces the effectiveness of treatment. Roads are icy in many areas. Please avoid driving if possible and reduce speed and use caution if you must be on the roadways. pic.twitter.com/RRvfZEYZAE— Jonathan Gulliver (@JLGulliver) February 4, 2022
Unlike last week’s nor’easter, which brought powerful winds that knocked out power to tens of thousands of people, Friday’s turbulent conditions did not cause major outages.
According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, as of 11 p.m., only 606 electric customers were without power statewide, down from over 3,400 earlier.
The storm is part of a much larger weather system that covered much of the Northeast and the Midwest. Airlines canceled 504 flights in and out of Boston Logan International Airport on Friday, according to FlightAware.com. More than a quarter of the cancellations were made by JetBlue, the airport’s largest carrier.
A spokesperson for JetBlue said the cancellations were based on bad weather in Boston and other cities, and the airline expects to see “network-wide cancellations through Saturday.”
Franklin Line Train 712 (11:12 am from Forge Park/495) is operating 5-15 minutes behind schedule between Norfolk and South Station due to a vehicle striking a bridge.— MBTA Commuter Rail (@MBTA_CR) February 4, 2022
Correspondent Jeremy C. Fox, and Kathy McCabe and Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff contributed to this report.