Storm blankets RI in fluffy layer of snow

Traffic on Interstate 95 in downtown Providence moves slowly during the evening commute on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014.

Snow started falling Tuesday afternoon in Rhode Island, where forecasters say 8 to 12 inches could fall in a storm expected to hits peak overnight.

The National Weather Service declared a winter storm warning through 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Forecasters are warning of difficult driving conditions Tuesday afternoon, and Rhode Island State Police urged employers to allow workers to leave early to avoid traffic backups.

But people who had to be on the roads later were concerned.

"Especially with everybody coming out of work. So, I think it's going to be a challenge. It's cold and windy now, so we'll see what happens later on," said Lisa Vasquez of Woonsocket.

A tractor-trailer truck jack-knifed on Interstate 95 in downtown Providence late Tuesday night.

Many schools canceled after-school activities, and several communities issued parking bans. Providence and many other cities and towns have already made the decision to close public schools Wednesday.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee activated the state's adverse weather policy for state workers, who can use leave if they can't get to work.

T.F. Green Airport reported that more than a dozen flights were canceled Tuesday.

Serve Rhode Island is seeking volunteers to shovel snow for elderly and disabled residents. Anyone interested in helping can sign up at Those who need assistance with shoveling can call the United Way's 211 help line.