---- — BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick is ordering non-emergency state employees to work from home on Friday because of the approaching snow storm and urging private employers to do the same.
Patrick said yesterday he encourages all schools to close today and non-emergency vehicles to stay off the road after noon.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for eastern areas of Massachusetts including Cape Cod and the islands.
“By all accounts we’re expecting a serious weather event,” Patrick said, urging residents to keep an eye on changing conditions. “Mother nature is unpredictable and forecasts change and change quickly.”
Patrick said he’s urging drivers to stay off the roads to give plowing crews the chance to keep up with the falling snow. He said if he needs to order roads closed to traffic, he will. He said people should make sure they have basic food and medicine and a full tank of gas.
The MBTA and commuter rail will shut down at 3:30 p.m., when the last trains and buses will leave downtown Boston. Amtrak said its Northeast trains will stop also running in New England Friday afternoon.
Logan International Airport will remain open, Massport Aviation Director Ed Freni said, but airlines aren’t operating flights beginning Friday afternoon until the storm winds down Saturday.
State Energy Secretary Rick Sullivan said officials have been in contact with all four of the state’s utilities and each has filed an action plan with the state. Work to restore power won’t start until the storm is over.
The Red Cross will open regional shelters to move individuals from warming centers to overnight shelters as needed.
Fire officials said exterior vents to gas furnaces and heating devices should be kept clear and candles, though not recommended, kept away from materials that could catch fire. Charcoal grills and generators should not be used indoors.
State Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said shutting down the MBTA is not unprecedented. It has been done twice in the past 18 months for storms. Davy said it should be running again before Monday morning’s rush hour.