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Storm is likely to snag morning commute

Severe cold snap to follow snow

A combination of snow, wind, and cold temperatures is poised to complicate the Tuesday morning commute in Eastern Massachusetts because of a snowstorm churning just offshore, the National Weather Service said. The coldest overnight temperatures in two years are predicted to follow the storm.

Greater Boston and Rhode Island were expected to get 2 to 4 inches of snow between 4 p.m. Monday and noon Tuesday. That would be accompanied by winds between 10 and 20 miles per hour and temperatures in the low 20s, according to forecasters, making driving potentially hazardous in the morning.

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The Weather Service on Monday declared a winter storm warning for the far northeast part of the state as well as for Plymouth County and the Cape and Islands, forecasting 4 to 8 inches of snow in those areas, combined with winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour and temperatures in the low 20s.

Clearing roads was to be a top priority for the city of Boston, due to the expected prolonged freezing temperatures, as preparations began for the storm, according to a statement from Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s office Monday afternoon.

“With several inches of snow expected in parts of the city, and freezing temperatures forecast for the next week, it’s important that residents and visitors be mindful of the conditions, especially as our crews work to treat and clear the roadways as efficiently as possible,” Menino said in the statement.

“I have directed the Snow Team to continue to monitor this unpredictable storm. I would advise anyone traveling into and around the city to use public transportation whenever possible.”

The city continued to monitor the storm to determine if a snow emergency and parking ban were needed. As of late Monday, the city did not plan to declare a snow emergency .

Boston public works crews would have about 300 pieces of equipment ready to begin clearing roadways by 1 a.m., the statement said.

The storm was tracking southeast over the ocean and was “set to explode,” sending bands of heavy snow across the water and into primarily coastal regions Monday night and into Tuesday, helped by the “homogenous cold” across the state, meteorologist Charlie Foley said Monday afternoon.

“There’s potential for the heavy snow bands to stay offshore, or the potential to come farther west,” Foley said, hence the range of forecast accumulations.

By noon Tuesday, flurries will linger as temperatures begin to bottom out.

Daytime temperatures were expected to stay in the 20s through Thursday, with frigid overnight lows.

“Wednesday and Thursday morning temps will be in the single numbers, and we haven’t seen those numbers in the last two years,” Foley said.

The week will close with another potential snowstorm, with accumulation expected mainly inland.

“Still pretty much uncertain as far as [snowfall] amounts, but it could still be a powerful storm,” Foley said.

Derek J. Anderson contributed to this report. Lauren Dezenski can be reached at lauren.dezenski@globe.com
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