A winter storm that has already crippled the Southeast is ready to move through western Massachusetts on Thursday.
Most schools across the region closed for the day. During an emergency meeting Wednesday evening, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno urged for businesses to remain closed and residents to simply stay at home Thursday.
Light snow began in Springfield before sunrise, but the heaviest snow is expected to arrive in the late morning and early afternoon. Snowfall rates of 1 or 2 inches per hour may be possible in some of the steadier snow bands during the second half of the day.
Total snowfall accumulations will be around 10 inches in the Springfield-Northampton area, with about 16 inches possible in the northern hilltowns through Friday morning.
Some sleet and freezing rain may mix into the Springfield area in the late afternoon and early evening, which will temporarily halt snow accumulations but continue treacherous road conditions.
This classic nor'easter will reach its peak intensity off the New England coast shortly after midnight. This will bring another band of intense snow back into the region overnight. While snow is expected to end for the Friday morning commute, clean-up will still be an ongoing process, and roads will likely remain hazardous from the additional overnight snow.
Thousands of flights have been canceled from Atlanta to New York City and many cities in between. Hundreds of thousands of southerners were hit with power outages due to significant ice from this storm as well.
Heavy, dense snow can bring down tree branches, which can clip a power lines on the way, but the Springfield area is not expected to see a massive ice storm like the south. Widespread and long-duration outages like the October 2011 nor'easter are not anticipated, but a few isolated incidents are possible as with any winter storm.
The complete 7-day forecast can be found in the Weather section.
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