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RI Gov. McKee updates blizzard situation: 9:30am press conference

Gov. Daniel McKee and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos at the RI Emergency Management Agency with his team responding to the blizzard from Department of Transportation, National Grid, State Police, National Guard, Jan 29, 2022, 9:30am.
(Photo: Michael Bilow)

(Click here to watch the full press conference.)

After declaring a state of emergency and imposing a travel ban because of the blizzard affecting RI today, Gov. Daniel McKee gave a progress report at a press conference held at the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) in Cranston this morning at 9:30am. He was accompanied by Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos along with leadership from the EMA, Department of Transportation, National Grid, State Police, and National Guard.

“As we expected, the storm started accumulating overnight and the winds have picked up. We are now seeing significant snowfall and rapid accumulation. We are experiencing snowfall between one and three inches an hour, totally between 18 and 24 inches by the time this is all said and done. And as I mentioned yesterday, this is one of the top snowfalls in a 24-hour period in the history of the State of Rhode Island at this point in time. That’s what we expect and that’s what we’re getting,” McKee said. “We expect the heaviest snows to be between 10am and 4pm today. That’s why the best thing that we can do right now is stay off the roads. Stay home right in the comfort of your own home. Between 11pm last night and 2am This morning, the Rhode Island State Police responded to 15 weather related accidents. Since then conditions have only getting worse. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, and again don’t put the people – all the first-responders out there, all our traffic plowers, you know people are behind the plows – don’t put them in harm’s way. So stay off the roads, please. Let us let our plows do their job and then we open things up and we’re in good shape as we recover tomorrow.”

McKee said all bridges are closed except for emergency vehicles, including the Newport Bridge, the Jamestown Bridge, and the Sakonnet River Bridge. McKee said that many parking bans have been imposed, and this is a matter of safety for access by fire and rescue. Have devices, including flashlights, charged, McKee said, although only about 75 households so far have experienced power loss from the storm.

Update: At 12:30pm, the governor told Motif that due to limited safety and visibility, state police have been directed to be cease patrolling roads and maintain positions in case they need to be called out to respond. He said he has not been able to leave the EMA facility to see for himself due to weather conditions, and his press spokesman said that would likely have to wait until tomorrow.

Requests have been forwarded to President Joe Biden for a federal disaster declaration to provide resources to help the state, McKee said, and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had offered assistance.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who is on the job doing the work making sure Rhode Islanders are safe: our plow crews, DPW workers, police officers, firefighters, first-responders and healthcare workers. Thank you on behalf of the people of the state of Rhode Island. This is a team effort, and because of the great team we have, we’ll get through this. If you have an opportunity, help your neighbor if you can. Make sure that you’re careful and we will see good results because of the great work that is happening in the local communities and on the state level,” McKee said.

Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos address the public in Spanish summarizing much of what McKee had said immediately before, adding “Just a reminder about the United Way, 211 is the number that you can call, if you need shelter or food. They have volunteers available answering the phone 24×7, so make sure you reach out to the United Way if you need assistance.”

State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni said, “As I stated yesterday, we do not put the travel bans in effect lightly. We realize that it creates some hardship for some people. But I’m happy to report that the vast majority of Rhode Islanders are staying off the highways. I drove most parts of the state today and I only saw a handful of vehicles. We do make exceptions, if you’re essential personnel and you must be at a hospital, nursing home, doctor, people that are involved in plow operations. We make those exceptions, but the the highways are fairly light. We have not issued a summons at this point.”

Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti said, “The reports that we’re getting in and my own observation out on the road is that everything is going exactly according to plan. We told you yesterday, we would have a full complement… about 155 of our plows and about 350 private vendors out there. They were deployed last night as we planned, they stayed out all night last night pre-treating the roads. At this point [9:30am] we’ve got what we expected, about four to seven inches across the state… As we said yesterday, the intensities which you can see is now picking up along with the wind gusts is going to create challenges for them… The general public is cooperating and so are the trucking industry: there are literally no tractor trailers on our highways and very few vehicles that I passed I when I was on the road this morning… Things are about to get a lot worse out there. So if you’ve stayed off the road, up until now, we certainly thank you for that. The next few hours are crucial. It’s going to be dangerous out there. There’s going to be very low visibility. There are whiteout conditions happening out there right now… Our folks are doing what they do, they’re going to punch through the other side of this. We told you yesterday our plan, that plan is in full effect and it’s working, so we’re going to stay with it.”




Thursday snow less than 1 inch: Ending early afternoon

At Providence, snow is possible Thu until 1:00pm, possibly beginning as rain before changing to snow. The timing of the precipitation will make the morning commute difficult due to slippery road surfaces, especially as ice forms during a transition from rain to snow.

Several cities in RI and nearby MA have announced parking bans; check local information for updates.

Median accumulation forecast less than 1 inch, with probabilities 77% for at least 0.1 in, 38% for 1 in, 1% for 2 in, and near 0% for 4 in. Lesser amounts are expected to the southeast toward the coast. Snow amounts have been revised slightly downward since the forecast cycle last night.

A substantial drop in temperature will occur Thu after sunset, plunging to 10F with sub-zero wind chill -2F by Fri sunrise and afternoon high rising only to 20F with 0F wind chill. Overnight temperature Fri into Sat will be even lower, down to 9F, before relenting somewhat to a Sat afternoon high 25F.




Thursday morning snow less than 2 inches: Will cause difficult commute

At Providence, snow is possible Thu 3:00am–2:00pm, possibly beginning as rain before changing to snow by 7:00am. The timing of the precipitation will make the morning commute difficult due to slippery road surfaces, especially as ice forms during the transition from rain to snow.

Several cities in RI and nearby MA have announced parking bans; check local information for updates.

Median accumulation forecast 1 inch, with probabilities 80% for at least 0.1 in, 48% for 1 in, 3% for 2 in, and near 0% for 4 in. Greater amounts are expected to the northwest of the metropolitan area and lesser amounts to the southeast toward the coast.




Monday early morning snow possible: Likely washed away by change to all rain

At Providence, snow is possible Mon 12:00-3:00am before changing to rain 3:00-11:00am.

Accumulation of as much as 1 inch could occur before the change, but temperatures rising above freezing with the change and into the low 40s by sunrise will prevent snow from remaining on the ground.




Friday likely up to 10 inches: First significant snowstorm of the winter

A Winter Storm Warning has been posted effective Fri 1:00am-4:00pm for all of RI and much of nearby MA.

At Providence, the first significant snowfall of the season is likely until 1:00pm, with snow in the mid-morning around rush hour, possibly heavy at times, causing difficult travel. By early afternoon, from the northwest wind gusts approaching 30MPH will cause drifting and blowing snow, further reducing visibility. While temperatures will be close to freezing, they are expected to remain several degrees below throughout the day, making any mix with or change to rain unlikely. Snow could continue as late as 4:00pm.

Heavy banding of moderate snowfall in some areas of RI could cause up to 10 inches in some areas of northern RI, but most parts of the state are still expecting 5-8 inches.




Friday likely 3-7 inches: First significant snowstorm of the winter

[This forecast has been updated: motifri.com/wx-2022-01-05-1027est]

At Providence, the first significant snowfall of the season is likely Fri 3:00am-1:00pm, with snow 95% likely in the mid-morning around rush hour, possibly heavy at times, causing difficult travel. By late morning and early afternoon, from the northwest sustained winds of 15 MPH with gusts exceeding 25 MPH will cause drifting and blowing snow, further reducing visibility. While temperatures will be close to freezing, they are expected to remain several degrees below throughout the day, making any mix with or change to rain unlikely. Snow could continue as late as 5:00pm.

The median accumulation forecast in the city is 5 inches, with probabilities 85% for at least 0.1 in, 80% for 1 in, 74% for 2 in, 60% for 4 in, 44% for 6 in, 28% for 8 in, 8% for 12 in, and near 0% for 18 in. Keep in mind that accumulation forecasts are very preliminary at this point three days in advance of the storm soand may be subject to considerable change.

Before the snowstorm, the region will experience rain Wed 9:00am-Thu 2:00am with a chance of freezing rain to the north of the I-95 corridor, although temperatures in the high 40s will prevent ice accretion in the metropolitan area.




Significant snowfall possible but unlikely today (Mon)

At Providence, significant snowfall is possible but unlikely today (Mon) 10:00am-4:00pm, with an offshore storm bringing 4-6 inches to the Cape and Islands but expected to have minimal impact inland unless it tracks substantially farther north than predicted.

While the chance of precipitation in the metropolitan area is only 20%, it will be all snow if it occurs with afternoon temperatures reaching only into the high 20s.

The median accumulation forecast in the city is 1 inch, with probabilities 75% for at least 0.1 in, 58% for 1 in, 41% for 2 in, 16% for 4 in, 4% for 6 in, 1% for 8 in, and near 0% for12 in. The latest mid-morning forecast very slightly increases accumulation amounts from the early morning forecast.




Significant snowfall possible but unlikely today (Mon)

At Providence, significant snowfall is possible but unlikely today (Mon) 10:00am-4:00pm, with an offshore storm bringing 4-6 inches to the Cape and Islands but expected to have minimal impact inland unless it tracks substantially farther north than predicted.

While the chance of precipitation in the metropolitan area is only 30%, it will be all snow if it occurs with afternoon temperatures reaching only into the high 20s.

The median accumulation forecast in the city is 1 inch, with probabilities 73% for at least 0.1 in, 54% for 1 in, 34% for 2 in, 10% for 4 in, 2% for 6 in, and near 0% for 8 in. Greater accumulation is possible along the south coast closer to the storm.




Fraction of an inch of snow, Mon overnight into Tue

At Providence, precipitation tonight (Mon) 9:00pm will begin as snow but change overnight (Tue) 3:00-6:00am to rain shortly before ending by 9:00am.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for northern RI and nearby MA Mon 7:00pm-Tue 10:00am for possible freezing ran and slippery road conditions.

The median accumulation forecast in the city is 0.4 in, with probabilities 68% for at least 0.1 in and near 0% for 1 in.

There is a less than 20% chance of snow early Wed 12:00-7:00am and a less than 30% chance of rain Wed 10:00pm-Fri 9:00am, the latter period with near 40F temperatures precluding any possibility of snow.




Wet, Not White, Christmas

At Providence, precipitation Sat (Christmas Day) will stay all rain, likely ending Sat 7:00pm but possibly persisting into Sun 2:00am.

A Winter Weather Advisory has been discontinued as of Sat 1:00pm because temperatures above freezing minimize risks of slippery roads and ice accretion on trees and power lines.

The next chance of rain or snow will be Tue night into Wed.