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Western Mass., N.H. dig out after storm

 Sean Correa, 15, and family members cleared their sidewalk in Fitchburg on Thursday after the first winter snowstorm of the year struck Central and Western Massachusetts and Northern New England.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Sean Correa, 15, and family members cleared their sidewalk in Fitchburg on Thursday after the first winter snowstorm of the year struck Central and Western Massachusetts and Northern New England.

MOULTONBOROUGH, N.H. — The first winter storm of the year walloped Western Massachusetts and northern New England with snow Thursday, while Boston got doused with pelting rain that dumped nearly 2 inches on the ­region.

The snow made for Currier and Ives scenes and gleeful ski business owners, with resorts reporting ­ample fresh powder, a sign of a good season to come, some said.

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“If you get snow, people get ­excited,” said Bobby Foster, spokesman for Waterville Valley Resort, which measured nearly 10 inches of new snow by midday Thursday.

The National Weather Service reported the storm would clear Thursday night, yielding to sunny skies Friday. A new storm is expected to develop Saturday, though, and could leave 2 to 4 inches of snow on the ground in Boston, the National Weather Service said.

Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, said the Boston area had no snow Thursday because the storm’s low pressure area ran along the coastline, which pulled in warmer air from the ocean and prevented precipitation from becoming snow.

 In Boston, where Danner Claflin wheeled his way along Boylston Street, warm ocean air turned the precipitation into pelting rain.o

DAVID L. RYAN/GLOBE STAFF

In Boston, where Danner Claflin wheeled his way along Boylston Street, warm ocean air turned the precipitation into pelting rain.

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“With low pressure overhead, you have easterly winds which carry relatively warmer air, and that warmer air keeps precipitation in liquid form,” Vaccaro said. “Further inland, where you’re away from the ocean influence and colder air is locked in and the winds are more northerly, those northerly winds continue to enhance the cold air, and that’s where you see snow fall.”

Boston received 1.87 inches by Thursday afternoon, he said.

Snow accumulation in New Hampshire was expected to be 10 to 14 inches, he said. In Western Massachusetts, accumulations of 4 to 8 inches were expected, a lesser amount than in New Hampshire because sleet and freezing rain mixed with snow.

Vermont and Maine were ­also expected to have a sizable snowfall, with reports in ­Vermont of between 8 and 12 inches and in Maine between 6 and 10.

In central New Hampshire, snow fell most of the day, with little of it settling as high winds kicked up the flakes and swirled them in mesmerizing whirls. The winds downed trees and knocked out power in some areas.

In Massachusetts, high winds caused a tree to fall on a garage in Seekonk and tore down a tree in Falmouth that blocked a lane of Route 28 Thursday morning, the National Weather Service reported. In Marshfield, a tree was reported down on a house on Pilgrim Road, the service said.

Along the coast, waves battered the shore. The weather service issued a coastal flood advisory for Barnstable, Bristol, Nantucket, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk counties. Large waves broke over seawalls and flooded roads with seawater and debris, the service said.

There were scattered power outages throughout the day — including in Chelsea, where some 1,300 NStar customers lost power. Power was fully ­restored in Chelsea within 3½ hours, said JoAnne O’Leary, spokeswoman for NStar.

Late Thursday night, 273 National Grid customers in ­areas including Worcester and Lowell remained without power, according to the company’s online power outage map. NStar reported on its website that 80 customers scattered across the state were without power late Thursday.

For all the headaches the storm caused in coastal areas, it brought the promise of an ­excellent season for ski areas that waited much of last year for this sort of snow.

“This is the biggest natural snowfall since October of last year,” said Tom Meyers, a spokesman for Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Mass., which had nearly 10 inches of new snow by Thursday afternoon. “This is tracking way ahead of last year.”

Meyers said the ski area made snow last year, but since people didn’t see snow in their back yards in Boston, skiing was not at the forefront of their minds. He said the area was expect­ing a surge of crowds in the second half of the Christmas vacation week.

“We’ve been making snow every chance we get, but it’s the natural snow that gets everybody excited,” he said. “Everyone is getting a real good remind­er from Mother Nature that it’s winter and it’s time to get out and enjoy it.”

Killington Resort in ­Vermont had 18 inches of snow by Thursday afternoon, when it was still coming down.

“We’re thrilled,” said Sarah Thorson, spokeswoman for ­Killington. “We’re hoping for as much snow as possible.”

As the storm began to wane Thursday, meteorologists were turning their attention to winter storm number two. Meteorologist Charlie Foley said another round of precipitation could hit Boston this weekend.

“We’ll have a quiet period from now until Saturday night, and then there is the potential for another snowstorm,” Foley said.

Forecasting models earlier this week were predicting that the storm system would stay over the ocean and only clip the coast, he said. But as the storm approaches, some models are instead showing a bigger hit.

“A couple of model runs show that the impact is much greater,” he said. “We could get significant snow, but it’s almost going back and forth, so we can’t quite nail it down.”

If the storm does drop precipitation on Boston, there will not be a transition from rain to snow, as seen in Thursday’s storm.

“We won’t have a mix,” Foley said. “Either all snow or no snow.”

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Melissa Werthmann contributed to this report. Sarah ­Schweitzer can be reached atschweitzer@globe.com.
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