By Tiffany Chan

NEEDHAM (CBS) – Gas up the salt trucks. Cities and towns across Massachusetts are preparing for the first snowstorm of the year.

In Needham, the work has already begun, as the town braces for about a half a foot of snow. A 12-man crew is out pre-treating the roadways and spreading the rock salt hours before the height of the storm.

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“As it gets to about two to three inches of accumulation, we’ll call in all the plows. And that’s about 100 people on that program,” said Needham Highway Superintendent Rhaidhardt Hoyland.

A truck pre-treats the road in Needham before Saturday night’s big storm (WBZ-TV)

This winter storm has been a tough one to prepare for because it’s constantly changing, Hoyland said.

He added that his biggest concern isn’t snow accumulation, but black ice in the morning. “Cold temperatures are coming in, so the chemicals don’t have the same effect as the temperatures drop. It’s not as effective, so that’s the challenge.”

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Department of Public Works crews aren’t the only ones preparing for the big storm. Employees at the Waltham Market Basket worked to keep up with the pace of shoppers who made those last minute purchases.

“It’s also kind of hectic getting through the aisles and getting the food that you want,” said shopper Ruben Allik.

There were long lines at the checkout that stretch all the way to the produce aisle. You can call it a pre-snowstorm ritual.

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Whether you’re pushing a snow plow or a shopping cart, the region is bracing for the first real taste of winter.

Tiffany Chan