Officials are urging residents to stay off the roads as white-out conditions are making driving treacherous all over the state amnd a blizzard warning has been issued.
As much as two inches an hour of snow is currently falling across the region, and wind gusts as high as 50 mph have been recorded. Sustained winds as high as 30 mph are currently blasting the region, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning for all of Rhode Island, adding to the gale warning and winter storm warnings it had already issued.
Gov. Gina Raimondo has closed the state and sent home all state employees. She is urging others to do the same and stay indoors.
"Stay home, stay inside, stay safe," Gov. Raimondo said during a noon press briefing. "Let the plows do their work. The roads are not in good shape. But if you have to be out, please stay away from the plows and let them do their work."
The governor said road crews are scattered around the state keeping the roads as clear as possible, and she expects the roads will be all clear by Friday morning. She said she does not plan to issue a state of emergency at this time.
"We're hearty New Englanders," she said. "We know how to deal with snow. We know how to handle this."
The snow is expected to continue into Thursday evening, at times falling at a rate of more than two inches an hour. The National Weather Service is calling for 9-15 inches to fall across Bristol County when all is said and done. Strong winds will continue through the night, plunging feel-like temperatures as low as -8. Travel will still be dangerous after the snow stops, as blowing snow limits visibility.