The salt is ready, the specialty equipment is fired up and the city has an eye on Winter Storm Nemo, and is tracking its path as it heads towards New England.
Its been a while since officials have had to deal with a blustering blizzard, but with Nemo barreling its way to Boston in the next few days, threatening to bring up to two feet of snow to the region, officials from MassDOT, the MBTA and Mayor Tom Menino’s office aren’t taking any chances.
Highway workers were stocking up on salt on Wednesday, two days before the storm is expected to arrive, taking 500 tons at a time for salt sheds that are running low.
“We are monitoring forecasts, and as always, we have the ability to call in 4,000 pieces of equipment to get the job done,” said Sara Lavoie, a spokeswoman for MassDOT.
Snow is expected to start falling early in the day Friday, with the worst of the winter storm on Friday night, into Saturday morning, making weekend travel for some difficult, or even impossible.
Lavoie stressed that if the snow does pile up, people need to clear off their cars before getting on the road, because the accumulated powder can be a hazard for drivers if it flies off a vehicle.
The storm, which was dubbed “Nemo” by the Weather Channel, will be dropping snow on Boston and the surrounding areas at a rate of two to three inches per hour, along with a heavy mix of blowing and drifting snow.
Off the roads and on the T tracks, a transportation spokesman said they have primed key areas for the potentially historic snowy weather.
Besides having a specialty website with the latest snow information and alerts that include detailed information about any changes to regular service,the MBTA has a “Snow and Ice” email address that customers can use to email about areas of concern. The email address will be firstname.lastname@example.org.
This inbox is monitored by a maintenance dispatcher who will prioritize concerns and deploy crews to address any issues reported.
During the storm, officials said workers would be out in full force, to prevent snow and ice build-up in the track beds and around switches.
“Crews will also be dispatched throughout the system to remove snow from train platforms, bus stops, and station entrances. During the overnight hours early Saturday, the MBTA will operate observation trains to prevent snow and ice build-up and look for any potential hazards such as downed trees or low hanging limbs,” according to an MBTA spokesman.
The T will be ready for the storm, regardless if it happens, with new hand held snow melters, new back pack snow blowers for clearing snow from Signal Switches and new pickup trucks with plows and spreaders to assist the bus stop clearing crews.
While there is still a lot of uncertainty about the storm’s exact path, size, and duration, Boston’s Mayor isn’t taking any chances by sitting back and waiting for the snow to pile up.
As early as Wednesday, Menino urged drivers to keep an eye on the conditions, and advised them to stay off of the streets on Friday if the storm hits as anticipated.
He also announced that Boston Public Works crews are preparing for the snow event, and will have almost 600 pieces of equipment active early Friday morning, and through the weekend.
Additional staffing will also be provided for the Boston Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
According to a statement from Menino’s office, residents with concerns or questions about the storm conditions, or experiencing problems will ice or downed power lines, can contact the 24-hour city hotline at 617-635-4500.