Monday's spring snow blast snarled commuters during both morning and evening rush hours, causing accidents and spin outs, and set a snowfall record in Rhode Island. The National Weather Service recorded 5.9 inches at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, which easily broke the 1957 record of 1.7 inches.
Unofficial snow totals reported to the National Weather Service ranged from three inches in Narragansett to seven inches in Providence, and eight inches in Bristol.
Snowy roads and several accidents snarled traffic during Monday's afternoon commute. State Department of Transportation officials said 200 plows were working to clear the roads, but heavy bands of afternoon snowfall made their job more difficult.
"We had the heavy snow come just before rush hour, so never a good combination," said RI DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin. "We’ve been out there doing what we can. The roads are passable."
State police reported multiple spin-outs and multi-vehicle accidents Monday due to snowy road conditions, especially in the early afternoon hours.
"We're getting crushed, so we’re hoping that the snow ends soon to be honest with you," said State Police Captain John Allen. "A second wave happened at about 2 p.m. We’ve been chasing numerous spin-outs and some multi-vehicle crashes since then."
Allen said troopers responded to 15 accidents on Monday morning before the snowfall slowed at about 10 a.m. When it picked up again, Allen said many roads were covered. Highway off-ramps seemed to pose a particular problem where snow was able to pile up.
"We're asking people to slow down and take their time," Allen said, adding that he hoped transportation crews would have the roads cleared in time for the evening commute.
Providence canceled afterschool activities, although public schools across the state held classes despite the snow.
April is coming in like a Lion in Rhode Island this year.
After a weekend marked alternatively by sunny skies and white-out conditions, a consistent snowfall settled in around some parts of the state Monday morning.
The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook and winter weather advisory, lasting until 8 o’clock Monday evening. Weather service meteorologist Bill Simpson said the greater Providence area could see 2-3 inches by the end of the day.
“(And) much lesser amounts, an inch or two maybe, on the south coast,” said Simpson. “And as you move farther north, higher amounts. Northern Rhode Island could get upwards of six-plus in some spots in higher elevations.”
That means messy afternoon commutes Monday are likely from Burrillville to Bristol. Simpson said the snow isn’t likely to melt off quickly.
“We’re definitely going to stay relatively cold as far as this time of year,” said Simpson. “Tuesday’s lows we’re looking at in the mid-twenties. Highs in the mid-thirties. And starting out pretty chilly Wednesday morning.”
Simpson said temperature should warm up to the sixties by Thursday and Friday.