Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is asking first and second-shift state employees to stay home Thursday due to the expected snow storm.

The forecasts are predicting that snow will begin to fall in the early morning with heavy snowfall between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Near blizzard conditions are expected at times with snowfall rates of up to 3 inches per hour through the morning.

“All indications are that this will be a fast-moving, challenging storm,” Malloy said. “We need roads clear so that emergency personnel and utility crews can do their job. As such, I urge all Connecticut residents to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. If employers can allow people to work from home or alter their hours, I encourage them to do that as well.”

Malloy will open the Emergency Operations Center at 5 a.m. and will hold a press conference at 9 a.m. Thursday.