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Officials urge people to work from home if possible, stay off roads during Tuesday snowstorm

The Commonwealth Avenue Mall nestled under a blanket of snow on Jan. 16, 2024.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

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Mayor Michelle Wu declared a snow emergency and said the city’s public schools would close Tuesday in anticipation of a powerful storm projected to bring heavy, wet snow across most of Massachusetts, but the storm forecast was downgraded later Monday, leaving residents watching and waiting.

The storm was earlier projected to drop up to 12 inches of snow in the Boston area, but a shift in the weather pattern’s track led forecasters with the National Weather Service to lower those predictions Monday afternoon to about 6 to 8 inches, with the heavier accumulation shifting south to Plymouth and Bristol counties.

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Kristie Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that for the last few days it appeared that the northern and southern jetstreams that influence the storm would converge over southern New England and rapidly intensify, but the new data that arrived Monday afternoon told a different story.

“It doesn’t seem like those . . . are going to line up, with the southern part tracking a bit farther south than we were expecting and northern part lagging a bit slower,” Smith said in an interview Monday evening. “We are still expecting to see some heavier snow bands across Southeastern Mass and Rhode Island.”

The weather service has issued a winter storm warning for Tuesday in Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, while Central and Western Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire will be under a winter weather advisory.

The snow emergency in Boston begins Monday at 10 p.m. The last storm to deliver significant snow accumulation over the city was Feb. 25, 2022, when Boston received about 8.5 inches of snow, according to the weather service.

“Our goal is to make sure that we can get out there as quickly as possible, be as efficient as possible and clearing off the snow so that we’re back and ready to go Wednesday morning,” Wu said at a City Hall news conference before the forecast was revised. “We want to make sure that kids are back in schools on Wednesday morning.”

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Dozens of other communities across the state joined Boston in canceling Tuesday classes ahead of the storm, including Lynn, Brockton, Quincy, Framingham, Taunton, Haverhill, and Revere.

The incoming storm will also keep voters at home in Milton, where the town was set to hold a key vote Tuesday on a controversial new land-use plan that would open the town to more multifamily housing development. The town’s select board unanimously decided to move the vote to Wednesday.

“I don’t think anybody is particularly crazy about delaying this, but we don’t want people to injure themselves to get their voices heard,” said Select Board member Ben Zoll.

The Massachusetts Trial Court said courthouses across the state will be closed Tuesday as the storm passes through.

A coastal flood warning will be in effect from noon to 5 p.m. down the length of the Massachusetts coast and along Cape Cod. Forecasters said many coastal roads will be impassible around high tide with flooding of 1 to 2 feet in areas including Revere, Winthrop, and down through Boston to the South Shore and Cape Cod.

A high wind warning will also take effect Tuesday morning and continue until 10 p.m. around the Cape and Islands, where wind gusts could climb to 60 miles per hour and potentially bring down trees and power lines, according to the weather service.

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Governor Maura Healey, MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng, and the state’s highway administrator Jonathan Gulliver, discussed the state’s storm preparations at a 3 p.m. news conference.

Eng earlier said the agency is working closely with communities to remove snow from bus stops as quickly as possible. He said the Mattapan Trolley will be shut down Tuesday and replaced with bus service.

At the news conference, he and Healey urged people to work from home if they can and stay off the roads.

Snow is coming: when, how much and how to prepare
WATCH: We could see at least 8 to 10 inches of snow — possibly up to a foot in spots around the region. Globe meteorologist Dave Epstein shares the forecast.

“Tomorrow we know it’s going to be a heavy, wet snow which creates a lot of difficulty for a lot of people,” Healey said.

Healey directed that “all non-essential employees of” the executive branch not report to work on Tuesday in light of the forecast, the governor’s office said.

“This means, unfortunately, that many in-person services will be closed,” Healey said during her afternoon briefing. “So please check if you have plans or an appointment. We ask that you avoid traveling tomorrow during the storm if possible.”

If residents must drive, Healey said, they should “not crowd plows or work vehicles. Stay back at least a couple hundred feet.”

Healey said the MBTA is planning normal weekday service except for shuttle buses on the Mattapan trolley line.

“But disruptions are of course possible so check mbta.com for updates,” Healey said. “In terms of preparing for potential power outages, it’s a good idea to charge all of your devices before the storm. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. ... Please do not leave space heaters unattended and do not go near downed power lines.”

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Earlier at City Hall, Wu said the snow emergency will mean that parking bans will be in effect on posted roadways and major arteries to make room for snowplows and emergency vehicles.

“We know that when our community comes together, we can weather any storm, and we will do so again this week,” she said.

Emergency shelters will be open during the storm. Wu said the city’s public health commission is working with shelters to ensure “everyone has access to warm shelter, food and resources.”

The city’s chief of streets, Jascha Franklin Hodge, said the storm is shaping up to be the city’s first major nor’easter in two years.

“This nor’easter will be quick but it will pack a punch,” Hodge said. The city has stockpiled 40,000 pounds of salt and can deploy 800 pieces of snowplowing equipment between city plows and private contractors.

“The little break we’ve had in winter weather has given us time to make sure that we are fully restocked and all of our equipment is ready to go,” Hodge said.

The National Weather Service said a “quick-hitting winter storm” will smack the region, with the heaviest snow falling in the southern half of southern New England, bringing “strong to damaging winds” for the Cape and Islands and likely coastal flooding from Boston down along the South Shore.

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The weather service has issued winter storm warnings for central, eastern, northeastern, western Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island from 1 a.m. Tuesday until 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The city provided details on how the snow emergency will affect residents.

— Space savers are banned in the South End and Bay Village. They are allowed elsewhere and can be kept for 48 hours after the snow emergency ends.

— Discounted rates are available at some parking lots and garages. The city has posted a list, broken down by neighborhood.

— Parking is banned on streets posted as snow emergency arteries. “You will be ticketed and towed if you park on a posted snow emergency artery during a declared snow emergency,” the city warns.

— Trash and recycling pickup starts two hours early, at 4 a.m., on Tuesday.

— Public library branches and Centers for Youth and Families facilities will be closed Tuesday.

This is a developing story and will be updated. Taylor Dolven, Danny McDonald, and Andrew Brinker of the Globe staff contributed.

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John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him @JREbosglobe. Ava Berger can be reached at ava.berger@globe.com. Follow her @Ava_Berger_. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com.