Winter storm warning issued for R.I.; morning commute affected

Updated at 4:05 p.m.

PROVIDENCE – A winter storm warning has been issued for most of Rhode Island and parts of southeastern Massachusetts for Friday, with an expected 6-8 inches of snow that could make driving hazardous during the morning commute.

The National Weather Service says the warning will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m., and now includes northern and southern Rhode Island. Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton are also included. At 2:22 p.m. the weather service issued an update saying up to 10 inches is possible in some locations, especially in southeast Massachusetts.

“Travel could be very difficult,” the weather service said. “The hazardous
conditions will impact the morning commute. The snow will taper off by early afternoon. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.”

Gov. Daniel J. McKee, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos and Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti on Thursday discussed the state’s efforts to prepare for this winter’s first significant snowfall.

- Advertisement -

Alviti said the state has 150 trucks equipped with plows and salting equipment that should be able to treat the roads effectively. He said the state will be supported by 300 private vendors in the effort as well.

“We have an adequate number of plows and drivers to handle the storm,” he said, despite some drivers having called out sick due to COVID-19.

Alviti said the heaviest snowfall will be during the morning rush hour period, with the heaviest accumulation expected in the southeast portion of the state – where up to 8 inches is forecast. The storm will taper off between noon and 2 p.m. on Friday, he said.

“The important part is, during the peak rush hour tomorrow morning, we will have the most intense periods of the storm – up to 1 inch per hour,” said Alviti. “That could be very challenging for people to be driving in. So, if you don’t need to be on the road, don’t be out on the road.”

Alviti also asked that people traveling give room to the plow drivers on the road, for safety reasons, and on so that they can do their job of clearing the roads.

McKee also asked that Rhode Islanders stay off the roads during the storm if travel is not warranted.

“You don’t need to be out on the roads, so stay off the roads,” he said.

McKee, speaking at the DOT in East Providence, asked the public to pay attention to parking ban policies around the state, while noting that National Grid crews will be available to address any issues that are presented by the storm.

“We are prepared. We have the equipment and materials – we are asking you to stay safe, and stay informed through the media,” said McKee.

(UPDATES throughout with latest projections.)