Officials in Springfield, Massachusetts are preparing for two feet of snow to fall on the city, at times rapidly, and caution cleanup could take several days.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, following a mid-morning briefing with public safety, public health, DPW, transportation, and power company officials, urged people to stay indoors during Tuesday morning, the time when the storm is expected to be at its most fierce.
"Stay off the roads," said Sarno. " Be home, be safe with your family, and make sure you check on your neighbors."
Sarno said weather forecasts are calling for Springfield to receive 18 inches of snow in just a nine hour period between 1 a.m.-10 a.m. Tuesday. At that snowfall rate, and with winds blowing the snow into drifts, it will be impossible for snow plows to keep up, according to officials.
The mayor implored city residents to follow the snow emergency parking rules that require alternate side of the street parking. He said if cars park on both sides of residential streets it will be impossible in many places for the plows to get through.
"So we need cooperation here, this is is a long duration storm," said Sarno
Total snowfall from the storm in western Massachusetts could be 30 inches by the time it stops snowing early Wednesday morning.
The Springfield Parking Authority is offering free parking at its downtown garages beginning Monday night to encourage people to remove their cars from the streets. Officials said the garages have 3,000 spaces.
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority is suspending all service effective at 10 p.m. Monday. The bus service is planned to resume Wednesday.
The city has 174 pieces of snowplowing equipment under contract to use during the storm, according to Springfield Department of Public Works Superintendent Chris Cignoli.
" What we hope to do is hit main and residential ( streets) a number of times during the storm so when we get to your neighborhood there isn't two feet of snow on a street," said Cignoli.
Cignoli said it typically takes 16 hours to plow all the city’s streets following a snowstorm, but he predicted it will take at least 24 hours after this storm is over before all the streets are cleared.
" It is going to require a lot of patience, somebody is last unfortunately, said Cignoli
Power outages are expected during the storm. Western Massachusetts Electric has pre-staged employees and materials in locations across its service area, according to spokesperson Priscilla Ress.
The Springfield Health and Human Services department is ready to open an emergency shelter if needed.