Snow shovels left over from last winter are flying off the shelves at Richmond Hardware as Braintree residents prepare for the largest snowstorm in years.
"This morning has been crazy," owner Steve Richmond said on Friday.
Along with shovels, the hardware store on Washington Street is selling batteries, flashlights, ice melt and other supplies at a rate that may be 20 times or more what is typical for a winter day without a storm, Richmond said. He plans to stay open Friday through the early afternoon, depending on how the blizzard develops.
Nearby, Loco's owner Bob Muccini said he will keep his burrito shop open as late into the afternoon as the weather and customer demand allows. The Dunkin' Donuts on Granite Street posted a sign announcing a closing time of 4 p.m. Friday.
Trucks affixed with snow plows idled in parking lots throughout Braintree Friday morning as the first flakes began to fall. Forecasts project the storm to hit heavily starting after 2 p.m. and barrel through the night and into Saturday morning, dropping anywhere from one to three inches of snow per hour.
Mayor Joseph Sullivan has directed the Braintree Emergency Management Agency to establish a hospitality center at the Department of Elder Affairs on Cleveland Avenue.
It will be open "for any resident who would need it during the storm due to unforeseen circumstances, specifically any power outages that may occur," according to the mayor's office. "Warmth and refreshments will be provided to any resident who needs it."
Town Hall and Thayer Public Library will close at 12 p.m. Friday and the library will also be closed on Saturday. There is a town-wide on-street parking ban in effect from noon Friday until 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Archdiocese of Boston released a statement Friday morning encouraging people to "exercise prudence" when it comes to deciding whether to attend Sunday Mass.
"The Office of Divine Worship urges all Catholics to heed the travel advisories
of their cities and towns, and to stay off the roads during the peak hours of the storm and plow operation," according to the statement. "The faithful are encouraged to use good judgment when planning to travel to Mass. Hopefully the storm will have passed on Saturday, and roadways will be clear for travel on Sunday."