BOSTON — Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Friday temporarily banned all non-emergency traffic on roads ahead of a major blizzard forecasted to blanket the US northeast.
"I have now signed an executive order banning vehicle traffic effective at 4:00 pm (2100 GMT) today. There are a number of exemptions for that for emergency workers and the like. Please exercise caution and use common sense," he said at his emergency center in Framingham.
The National Weather Service predicted "a major winter storm with blizzard conditions" along most of the region's coastline, hitting especially hard around Boston.
Patrick said he was declaring a state of emergency from 1700 GMT.
"This will allow us to implement emergency measures to ensure the safety of our residents and take appropriate steps to mobilize state assets," he said.
As many as 5,000 National Guard soldiers were due to be called up for duty.
Carrying the possible penalty of a year in jail, it was the first time a driving ban was ordered since an infamous blizzard in 1978, officials said.
The winter storm, which has been christened Nemo by The Weather Channel and other media outlets, is expected to dump at least two feet of snow on the city of Boston.
This was the view in Somerville, MA at around 4:00 p.m., when the driving ban was set to take effect:
— Priyanka Boghani (@priyankaboghani) February 8, 2013
The storm has been extensively covered on social media, including Twitter's latest offering, the six-second video app called Vine.