Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is ordering non-emergency state employees to stay home today because of the approaching snowstorm.

Patrick is encouraging all schools to close today and non-emergency vehicles to stay off the road after noon.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and commuter rail will shut down at 3:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for eastern areas of Massachusetts including Cape Cod and the islands.

The snow is forecast to begin falling this morning, picking up in intensity during the afternoon with the heaviest Friday night into early Saturday. Winds up to 40 mph with gusts up to 65 mph combined with heavy snowfall are expected to make travel dangerous.

Widespread 2-foot snow accumulations are expected.