ATTLEBORO -- Authorities are urging people to stay home and wait out what is predicted to be the biggest nor'easter in at least seven years.
“The first thing is that people need to stay off the roads while the snow is coming down. We cannot promise the safety of motorists when the snow is coming down,” Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux said Friday.
“When the snow is coming down, the intention of the city is to keep the roads open enough to allow emergency vehicles access,” Heroux said in an email.
“Once the snow stops,” the mayor said, “the snow operation will push the snow back to the curb and clear the roads for normal driving. Once the roads are clear, we will focus on clearing the sidewalks.”
“With the potential magnitude of this snowstorm, we need the roads to be clear for plow drivers and emergency vehicles,” Plainville Chief Jim Floyd said.
“Thank you in advance for your cooperation and we hope everyone remains safe during the storm,” Floyd said.
Area police have issued parking bans from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon or evening to keep the roads clear for plows. Police say car owners risk having their vehicles towed in addition to fines.
The ban in North Attleboro will be until further notice. In Mansfield, a parking ban in downtown is in effect until 6 a.m. Monday.
The Attleboro area is expected to be hard hit.
The National Weather Service in Norton Friday morning issued a blizzard warning for the region west from Cape Cod to the Interstate 495 and Interstate 95 corridor and Rhode Island.
Amounts are variable but more than two feet of snow was predicted to fall in some areas, the heaviest snow since a nor’easter in 2015. In addition, wind gusts of between 40 mph and 60 mph are expected with low visibility.
Officials caution the conditions will be dangerous and that the strong winds may cause power outages, although the snow is expected to be light because of freezing temperatures.
Police urge residents to call your utility provider in the event of a power failure. National Grid is 1-800-465-1212 and Eversource is 1-800-592-2000.
AccuWeather said the storm will develop rapidly and strengthen into a “bomb cyclone” as it moves northward along the Eastern Seaboard and pounds eastern New England, creating an all-out blizzard in some areas.
“This is going to be a dangerous, life-threatening storm, which will be a blizzard in some spots, especially in southern New England,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter said.
“Bands of heavy snow will develop in eastern New England during the heart of the storm that can produce 2-4 inches of snow per hour, extremely intense snowfall rates,” he said.
“There will also be the potential for thunder and lightning associated with these intense bands. Travel is likely to be nearly impossible in parts of southeastern New England on Saturday and Saturday night,” Porter said.
Police and fire officials urge people to keep cellphone and electronic devices powered up in the event of a power failure. They say to check on family and neighbors, particularly if they are elderly.
Fire officials also say residents should make sure to check outside vents to make sure they are clear of snow to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Anyone with a generator should keep it outside, according to fire officials.
Residents are also encouraged to clear fire hydrants, at least three feet around, to help firefighters in the event of a fire.
“The best people who know where the fire hydrants are are the people in the neighborhood,” North Attleboro Fire Chief Chris Coleman said.
North Attleboro has over 1,100 fire hydrants and some without the metal flags on top which help firefighters locate them in heavy snowstorms, Coleman said.
Shoveling out the hydrants for firefighters can allow them to immediately begin to fight a fire, Coleman said.
“If we have to shovel two or three feet it’s going to take some time,” Coleman said.
A typical fire engine with 500 gallons on board can deplete its water supply in about two minutes, according to the fire chief, so having quick access to a hydrant is essential.
Municipal buildings, such as public libraries will be closed Saturday. Other buildings that will be closed include municipal landfills, the Mansfield Green and Recycling Center, North Attleboro Transfer Station and the North Attleboro Animal Shelter.