MILFORD, Mass. – Echoing meteorologists across the region, state Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) on Thursday warned constituents of the major winter storm slated to hit the region on Friday and encouraged them to take appropriate actions to prepare.
The snow is expected to begin just after the morning commute on Friday, with 1 to 2 inches in the morning and 2 to 4 inches in the afternoon. After sunset, however, the rate of snowfall will increase dramatically, to up to 4 inches per hour.
“This storm has the potential to be a top 10 nor'easter,” Moore said. “Locations across southern Worcester County are likely to get a foot and a half of snow - and even up to 2 feet in some areas.” The winds from the storm are also expected to be dangerous, gusting as high as 65 miles per hour.
To help residents prepare for the powerful storm, Moore offered the following guidelines for staying safe and escaping damage in severe winter weather:
Restrict your travel if at all possible. Between 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday, when the snow is expected to be falling hardest, you are urged to stay indoors and off the roads unless it is absolutely essential for you to go out.
Prepare for power outages. Make sure you are stocked up on batteries and candles; keep flashlights in a place you will easily be able to locate them in the dark. In anticipation of an outage, turn your freezer/refrigerator to its coldest setting; that way, your food will take longer to spoil. Finally, fully charge all electronic devices you may need if the power goes out, most importantly, your cell phone, but unplug them before the storm hits in case of a power surge.
Prepare for the loss of heating. In winter, power outages can also mean it gets very cold indoors. Keep many blankets in an easy-to-access place (even in the dark) and replenish your supply of firewood if you have a fireplace.
If you live near water, prepare for flooding. The wind and barometric pressure from the storm is expected to create an ocean storm surge of 2 to 3 feet, just like a hurricane. The high tide at 9 p.m. Friday will be the critical point for flooding.
Prepare wisely, but don't go overboard. You may also choose to buy bottled water and non-perishable food in case of sustained power outages, but there is no need to panic. By Sunday, conditions and the roads will be clear again, and you will be able to do your shopping as usual.
Use the state hotline. One excellent resource in times like these is the 2-1-1 hotline. 2-1-1 is a number anyone can dial at any time for non-emergency assistance. During disasters or states of emergency, like this storm has the potential to be, 2-1-1 offers the latest information on disaster response, public safety, post-disaster programs and just the status of the emergency. It also provides interpreter service for non-English speakers and general information on government-provided human services, even outside of emergencies.
Keep informed and up to date on the weather. Keep an eye on your favorite forecasting service over the next couple days. The National Weather Service in Taunton monitors local weather and provides radar, satellite and a seven-day forecast just like the private weather forecasters. Just click on your location on the map on their homepage to be taken to a customized local weather page. The map is also color-coded with the alerts that have been issued and what areas are covered by it. You can click on the name of the alert in the map key to read the text of the advisory, which usually has details such as how many inches of snow are expected and what a reasonable response to the weather is (e.g., driving conditions).
Know the terminology. Generally speaking, you can also get an idea of conditions based on the name of the alert. A "winter storm" watch or warning refers to the potential of accumulating snow of 6-plus inches in 12 hours, or 8-plus inches in 24 hours. A "blizzard" watch or warning means considerable falling or blowing snow with winds over 35 miles per hour and visibilities below a quarter of a mile. A "watch" means these conditions are expected in 24 to 48 hours, while a "warning" means they are imminent.
Moore is a former associate director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the Clinton Administration. For more information about Moore, visit www.senatormoore.com, or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormoore.