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Massachusetts is bracing for Wednesday's east coast blizzard, which began sprinkling light flakes across the state by late morning and is forecast to turn into heavy snowfall by the evening.
National Weather Service meteorologist William Babcock says the storm will build gradually and peak just in time to wreak havoc with the state's evening commute.
"It'll start off light, but as we get closer to mid-day and early afternoon, it'll be coming down pretty heavily, certainly through the afternoon hours," Babcock said. "It will be falling anywhere from one to two inches an hour. There may be areas where it comes down even heavier than that."
According to latest forecasts, Boston is expected to get between four and eight inches of snow before the storm ends early tomorrow morning. Southeastern Massachusetts could get as much as a foot of snow.
In anticipation of the storm, hundreds of Massachusetts schools canceled classes for the day, while many others planned early dismissal.
Crews were out early Wednesday morning treating roads ahead of the snowfall, but Colin Durrant, of the state's transportation department, said commuters should simply avoid roadway travel, if possible.
"Any storm like this is a challenge," Durrant said. "We're obviously encouraging people to take public transit whenever possible."
The MBTA will be running extra service Wednesday afternoon on the red, green, blue and orange lines, in addition to supplemental bus services on main routes.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency identified no problems with Wednesday's morning commute, save for saying that a number of commuters appeared to have stayed home.
Allen Dunham, also a National Weather Service meteorologist, says those who did go to work should consider leaving early, especially if they will be traveling south or southwest of Boston.
"Be prepared to take a long time because it is going to be really bad driving conditions out there," Dunham said, "especially in the late afternoon through the evening hours."
Gov. Deval Patrick has ordered most non-emergency state employees to leave work at noon.
This program aired on February 10, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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