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2:10 pm
Wed January 12, 2011

Storm blankets RI in snow

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A major winter storm has dumped a blanket of white across Rhode Island and forecasters say the heavy overnight snowfall should continue throughout this morning. National Weather Service meteorologist Nicole Belk says much of the state could see more than a foot of snow by the end of the day.

"For most of the state we're expecting 12 to 16 inches of snow," Belk says. "Newport County a little bit less at 8 to 12. And by the time we get to Block Island, we're expecting 3 to 6 inches."

The National Weather Service says North Foster has seen the highest totals at more than 14 inches.

Belk says the snowfall should slow down this afternoon and end by seven o'clock tonight. A winter storm warning remains in effect until eight o'clock tonight for all of Rhode Island except Block Island.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

So far the snow has resulted in only a few minor accidents in Rhode Island. State Police Lieutenant Robert Cunniff says only one driver was taken to the hospital overnight.

"There was just one on Route 37, we had a vehicle that was involved in a rollover. And she was transported to the hospital," Cunniff says.

State Police have also responded to a downed tree in Cranston. Right now, they are reporting no road or bridge closures.

CLOSINGS

Today's storm has prompted the closure of virtually all schools in the state. Cities and towns throughout Rhode Island have issued parking bans, and many businesses have told workers to stay home for the day.

Officials at The Warwick Mall say they will be closed until at least 2 this afternoon and that they will release more detailed plans later this morning.

TF Green officials say the Warwick airport remains open but there are numerous cancellations. Air travelers are urged to check with their individual carrier for specific cancellations.

POWER OUTAGES

The state's major utility, National Grid, says more than 2,000 customers in Rhode Island are currently without power as a result of the storm.

The company says that includes 850 households in Providence County, more than 400 in Kent County, nearly 350 in Washington County, more than 270 in Newport County and nearly 250 in Bristol County.

Earlier this morning, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency said 24,000 National Grid customers were without power. The agency now says those numbers were erroneous.

T.F. GREEN

Right now, there are no passenger flights going in or out of TF Green Airport in Warwick as a result of the storm. Rhode Island Airport Corporation President Kevin Dillon says runway conditions are good but airliners decided not to fly into TF Green last night out of fear of stranding their aircraft. He says flights will likely be up and running again at five this afternoon.

"We are though in very good shape," Dillon says. " The airfield's in very good shape. We have good friction on the runway and we are anticipating later this afternoon, early this evening, that we'll start to get activity in."

Dillon says the airport will remain open throughout the day despite the service changes. He urges air passengers to check with their individual airline for flight information.


AMTRAK

Amtrak service between Boston and New York is cancelled due to a fallen tree that pulled down overhead wires. Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole says it happened at seven o'clock Wednesday morning in Sharron Massachusetts.

"Obviously the storm in the New England area is taking a bulls eye in that spot today, so we've had a large amount of snow, high winds and some freezing of the switches as well, so," says Cole.

Amtrak will take a look this Wednesday afternoon, says Cole, to see whether it can start service back up.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.