Forecasters: Friday storm has potential to drop a foot or more of snow

Boston, MA--12/29/2012 The first snow storm the hit the area didn't deter the shoppers at the intersection of Washington Street, Summer Street and Winter Street in Downtown Crossing on Saturday December 29 2012. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff) Topic: Reporter:
If there’s not too much, snow can add to the mood as it did at the intersection of Washington, Summer, and Winter Street in Downtown Crossing on Dec. 29, during the first snowstorm of the year.
Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

A storm arriving in the Bay State on Friday has the potential to drop a foot or more of snow in some areas, but it’s still too early to pin down the details, National Weather Service forecasters said.

“Everyone in Southern New England should be prepared for the potential of a very significant winter storm Friday into early Saturday,” the service said in a forecast discussion posted on the Web.

The service said it was too early to predict exact snowfall amounts and locations, but the “main show” will occur Friday afternoon into early Saturday, with conditions coming together for a “classic setup for a major winter storm across Southern New England.”

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Earlier Tuesday, forecasters were still pondering different supercomputer models, including one that suggested the storm could be a bust. But the forecasters said late Tuesday afternoon that their confidence was increasing that a big storm would hit the state.

Benjamin Sipprell, a weather service meteorologist, emphasized this afternoon that the storm was still days away — if it turns out to be a storm at all.

“As it stands right now, the storm itself hasn’t materialized. We don’t even see the whites of its eyes. It hasn’t come together,” he said. “It’s Tuesday today and we’re still three days out from the storm. Anything is possible.”

But he also said, “We’re going to be definitely keeping a close eye on this.”

Issuing a hazardous weather outlook message, the forecasters said the main uncertainty was how far west the heaviest snow would reach into the interior. The other question was whether snow would mix with rain along the coast, cutting down total snow accumulations.

The forecasters also said there was a moderate to high probability of a period of strong winds across parts of the coastal plain late Friday and early Saturday, as well as a period of minor to moderate coastal flooding Friday night and Saturday morning.

With strong winds and high seas off the coast, forecasters, warned the storm “has the potential to be a dangerous and life threatening storm for mariners.”

The storm will happen when a low-pressure area develops off the mid-Atlantic Coast, then steams northeast off the Massachusetts coast. At the same time, a high-pressure system over eastern Canada will provide cold air to generate snow, the forecast discussion said.

Meanwhile, up to 2 inches of snow are expected to fall on Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts, wrapping up by 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Boston’s metro area can expect “nuisance snow accumulation, if at all,” weather service meteorologist Charlie Foley said.

Skies should clear Wednesday afternoon, with a light wind and highs reaching 40 degrees in Boston.

“It’s not very February-like, but we’ll take it,” Foley said.

Thursday will look much like Wednesday afternoon, though a touch cooler, with highs in the upper 20s and light winds.