By mid-morning Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declared a state of emergency and asked the public to stay off the roads as the snow started falling. At a noon media briefing, Malloy did not ban highway travel, but he asked the public to stay home.

The worst thing that could happen in a storm like this is for cars to get backed up on the highways, which could take the state days to clear, Malloy said.

He said the state does not block every highway entrance and stop every vehicle, but the message is clear that emergency personnel are the only ones who should be on the highway.

“If you’re leaving your house to get on the highway to go buy milk at this point you’re doing the wrong thing,” Malloy said.

He said all non-emergency personnel should make their way back home and stay there.

“People need to take this storm seriously. If current predictions are accurate, we will need people to stay off the roads so that emergency personnel and utility crews can get to the places they need to get to, and to make sure that our plows can keep critical roadways clear,” Malloy said. “Please stay home once the weather gets bad except in the case of real emergency.”

The emergency declaration Malloy will sign gives him the power to modify or suspend state laws and regulations and the ability to order civil preparedness forces into action.