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Winter storm forecast: 6-8 inches of snow expected in parts of Massachusetts Saturday, potentially causing travel hazards and outages

This weekend may be a good time to sit inside and drink some hot chocolate.

An impactful winter storm is expected to batter the state starting late Friday and lasting into Saturday night. Large snow accumulations in the interior of the state, heavy rain and harsh winds are expected.

A winter storm watch has been issued from as far west as the Berkshires to as far east as Boston. Total snow accumulations in parts of the state may range from less than an inch to as many as 8 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

“A rapidly intensifying storm system will produce gusty winds and heavy rain, changing to a period of accumulating snow, heavy at times by Saturday afternoon into evening,” the federal agency said.

A higher than usual amount of uncertainty still remains in the forecast, however. How exactly the potential weekend storm will unfold remains somewhat of a question mark despite being 24 to 36 hours out, according to officials.

Even with the uncertainty, the National Weather Service said it is sure the storm is going to be a “highly dynamic system,” which means despite marginal temperatures, there will likely be a period of heavy snowfall rates that reach 1-2 inches per hour.

The agency is warning of hazardous driving conditions and scattered power outages where heavy wet snow accumulates.

Central and northern Worcester County as well as the Pioneer Valley, the MetroWest area and Essex County should be hit hardest by the snow, with 6-8 inches expected, according to forecasters.

The rest of Central Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley and Greater Boston may receive closer to 4-6 inches snow. While Worcester is expected to be hit with 4-6 inches, Springfield and Boston will see around 3-4 inches, officials said.

In Eastern Massachusetts, amounts should lessen farther south of Boston. No accumulations are expected in Hyannis and beyond on Cape Cod, according to the National Weather Service.

A high wind watch has also been issued for coastal communities south of Boston on the Cape and Islands and in Plymouth and Norfolk counties, where gusts should reach as high as 50-55 miles per hour, the agency said.

Gusts of 45-50 mph are expected in the Boston area, 25-30 in the Pioneer Valley and Worcester County and 30-35 mph in the Berkshires, forecasters noted.

The National Weather Service urged residents to monitor the latest forecasts and warnings about the looming storm. People should also fasten loose objects or shelter items in a safe location prior to the onset of the strong winds, officials recommended.

“Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are possible. Travel could be difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles,” the agency said.

The storm should exit the region by Sunday. Mainly dry and colder weather will follow Monday and Tuesday, with blustery and chilly conditions expected into early next week. The forecast is subject to change more than 72 hours out, though.

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