Rhode Island rides out March nor'easter

Cranston police were turning around drivers on Pontiac Avenue near Kenney Drive, where the street was flooded, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (WJAR)

A powerful nor'easter pounded Southern New England on Tuesday, prompting flight cancellations, school closures and warnings from city and state officials to stay off the roads.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority said it ceased bus operations at 1 p.m., while Amtrak suspended service between Boston and New York City.

Narragansett police said a wind turbine tower at Salty Brine State Beach toppled. They believe it was due to high winds.

Snow and slippery travel conditions were reported throughout the state, however traffic was light and the Rhode Island State Police said only four minor crashes had been reported as of 11 a.m. No one was hurt.

Troopers helped a driver whose car went off the road.

Col. Ann Assumpico, superintendent of State Police and director of public safety, urged motorists to stay off the roads if possible to allow highway crews to clear the snow.

National Grid reported about 1,800 homes and businesses without power in Rhode Island, about half of the outages were in Washington County. Outages were also reported in Bristol, Newport and Providence counties.

Despite the forecast, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said she doubts there will be a state of emergency or travel ban.

"At this point, I do not anticipate putting a travel ban into place," Raimondo said during a news conference at about 6 p.m. Monday. "We will adjust that as necessary, but at this point in time I don't think that that is necessary."

Raimondo did urge people to stay home.

"If everybody heeds the warning and stays home -- the school kids will be home (and) state government is closed," she said. "We're going to keep everybody off the roads and we'll plow as we go."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said state offices will be closed Tuesday for non-emergency, executive branch employees.

The speed on the Massachusetts Turnpike was reduced to 40 mph from the New York border to Boston.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the travel ban on state roads will be lifted at 5 p.m.

The ban went into effect at 5 a.m. Tuesday as the winter storm began to ramp up. Malloy said limiting travel on state roads "dramatically reduced the potential for accidents" and provided road crews "with much greater access to clear the roads faster."

Malloy said he's still strongly advising residents to stay off the roads if at all possible because Department of Transportation crews are still clearing the roads and black ice continues to be a concern. Third-shift state employees are being told they should not report to work Tuesday afternoon.

According to the airline-tracking website FlightAware, more than 5,000 Tuesday flights have been canceled. Very few flights were scheduled to depart T.F. Green Airport.

Virtually all schools in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts were closed Tuesday.

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