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Heavy snow was forecast and a blizzard warning was posted for portions of Massachusetts on Tuesday, prompting Gov. Deval Patrick to dismiss nonemergency state workers early and postpone his annual State of the State address.
The storm, which could dump 8-14 inches of snow on southeastern parts of the state, was bearing down "stronger and faster" than initial predictions indicated, Patrick told reporters at an afternoon briefing.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod and the islands, and coastal sections of Plymouth County. Forecasters said snow could fall at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour during the height of the storm, with sustained winds of 20-30 mph and gusts of up to 50 mph.
Much of the rest of the state was under a winter storm warning until early Wednesday afternoon, with accumulations of 4-8 inches expected.
"The snow will be heaviest from 8 p.m. Tuesday until 7 a.m. Wednesday," meteorologist David Epstein said Tuesday morning. "The snow should end in Worcester around sunrise, Boston around 9 a.m. and over Cape Cod between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesday."
The snow will be accompanied by temperatures set to drop into the single digits overnight.
The Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates Logan Airport, said many airlines canceled flights in advance of the story and further delays were likely.
Most domestic airlines planned to have limited operations out of the airport after 8 p.m. Tuesday and through Wednesday morning, Massport said in a statement. International flights might fare better, but passengers were encouraged to check with their airlines.
State officials said snow removal crews would work to keep major highways passable during the storm, but warned that the blizzard-like conditions could make travel treacherous, especially in southeastern Massachusetts.
"Fourteen inches over a few hours ... especially when the wind is blinding, that's a problem for everyone," said Richard Davey, the state's transportation secretary.
One relief, he said, was that the storm was not expected to produce any serious ocean flooding in Massachusetts.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
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