CRANSTON, R.I. — Rhode Island businesses won’t be getting much love from Mother Nature on the eve of Valentine’s Day.
A soggy smack of snow in the form of a nor’easter is forecast to arrive early Tuesday morning and could leave anywhere from 2 inches to 8 inches of snow in Rhode Island.
Governor Dan McKee, in preparation for the storm, issued a tractor-trailer travel ban and ordered the closures of the State government on Tuesday.
“We are strongly urging Rhode Islanders to stay off the roads during the snowstorm tomorrow to allow the plows to do their job,” McKee said. “We are encouraging businesses and employers to give their employees as much flexibility as possible.”
The tractor-trailer ban goes into effect at midnight until “further notice,” and prohibits semis on all interstate highways and state roads. The travel restriction was made in coordination with Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.
New weather models predict light snow will begin around 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., a few others later than previously reported, with the heaviest snowfall rates between 9 a.m. and 3 pm. on Tuesday. Totals in Rhode Island could range from 3 to 14 inches. Winds could gust up to 65 mph on Block Island and 33 mph on mainland Rhode Island.
McKee said he met with his cabinet to coordinate the state’s storm response.
The Rhode Island Department of Transportation will report for duty three hours ahead of the storm to pre-treat roads. RIDOT will mobilize 450 plows and is fully stocked with 60,000 tons of salt. Extra tow trucks are on standby to clear disabled vehicles in the Washington Bridge bypass lanes.
During a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday, at the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency in Cranston, McKee said travel could be difficult for commuters using the Washington Bridge — a span of Interstate 195 over the Seekonk River. The westbound bridge was closed in December after a “critical failure” was discovered. Bypass lanes on the separate, eastbound side of the bridge provide for only limited westbound traffic.
Rhode Island Energy will add 75 out-of-state line crews, in addition to 50 state crews to support power restoration. An additional 80 forestry teams will help with downed trees and other vegetation.
McKee said that R.I. Emergency Management Agency is working with communities to coordinate situational updates to state government, municipalities, and other partners throughout the storm.
Rhode Island State Police is prepared with additional troopers across the state ready to assist motorists wherever needed.
The Department of Housing is activating pop-up shelters, and local warming shelters, which will be open during the storm. Shelters can be found at MLK Community Center, 20 Dr. Marcus Wheatland Boulevard, in Newport; Welcome House, 8 North Road, in South Kingstown; Crossroads R.I. Community Room, 160 Broad St., in Providence; WARM Center, 56 Spruce St., in Westerly; West Warwick Civic Center, 100 Factor St., West Warwick; and Community Care Alliance, 55 Cummings Way, in Woonsocket.
Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said school districts will decide locally whether to have virtual learning or cancel classes.
For the latest on school closings and delays, visit the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association list.
McKee said the storm is expected to be over by Wednesday, in time for Valentine’s Day.
“Our anticipation right now is that the snow will end around 5 p.m. (Tuesday),” the governor said. “We’ll be working around the clock with the 400 and some plows to make sure that we’re clearing the streets so that ideally we’d be open for business the next day. ... We’re going to try to do our part on the state level, coordinate with the municipal level so those businesses can have a good Valentine’s Day.”