Weekend winter storm to sweep across Midwest into Northeast


    The Rhode Island Department of Transportation says it has plenty of salt to treat the roads for the winter storm expected this weekend. (WJAR)

    National Grid is warning Rhode Island customers to be prepared in case the power goes out this weekend during the winter storm.

    “People should be ready for power outages throughout the state, be prepared for that. Make sure you have provisions in place. Look out for your neighbors,” said Tim Horan, president of National Grid in Rhode Island.

    Horan said how quickly crews are able to get into bucket trucks and restore power will depend a lot on the wind.

    “It’s going to be windy, over 40 miles an hour -- our folks cannot get up there and I think another twist to this one is the ice,” Horan said. “Traveling conditions are going to be dangerous out there if we do get that ice."

    The Rhode Island Department of Transportation urges drivers to stay off the road starting Saturday night.

    “Less traffic is always easier for us and that’s why the message that we always send out -- if you don’t need to be out on the road during a storm, don’t be,” said Joseph Bucci, RIDOT’s state highway maintenance operations engineer. “It’s safer for motorists and it’s a lot safer for our guys and we’re off the road faster and people can get out and go about their normal routines.”

    Bucci said RIDOT is ready for the mix of snow, sleet and ice forecast for Southern New England.

    “We selectively pre-treat areas where we know there could be problems and so we’ll get some material out prior to the event falling down,” Bucci said.

    Cities and towns announced parking bans ahead of the storm, while some churches have already called off Sunday services because travel could be treacherous.

    Forecasters said the storm is expected to begin Friday afternoon in the Chicago area, bringing as many as 9 inches of snow before intensifying and reaching New York.

    Snow totals of 16 inches to 17 inches are forecast in parts of Massachusetts and Maine. Wind gusts in the Chicago area are expected to reach 30 mph to 35 mph.

    (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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