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Smaller storm expected this weekend

Most of Eastern Massachusetts will only be grazed by the snowstorm that is expected to hit the state this weekend, the National Weather Service says. But the snow is expected to be heavier in parts of Central and Western Massachusetts.

A snowfall forecast map issued by the agency this afternoon says the Boston area will get less than an inch and less than 2 inches will fall in the outer suburbs. But the map predicts that portions of Central and Western Massaschusetts could get up to 14 inches.

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Precipitation will begin at midday on Saturday and intensify gradually until Sunday morning, the forecasters said in a discussion posted on the Web. Rain is expected along the shorelines and coastal plains, a rain-snow mix is expected across the eastern portions of Central Massachusetts, and wet snow is expected further into the interior.

The best chances for accumulation are in northwestern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and at higher elevations, the forecaster said.

Sunday into Sunday night, rain could change back to snow from northwest to southeast. “Accumulations will be possible over the coastlines and coastal plains ... albeit very light,” the forecasters said.

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The weather service warned that the forecast was still tricky because of the difficulty of determining where the precipitation would fall as snow and where it would fall as rain.

Areas that do see snow will feel its impact, as “it’s a heavier, denser snow than the last couple storms,” said meteorologist Bill Simpson.

The forecasters also warned of poor drainage flooding and a moderate probability of minor coastal flooding on the east-facing coastline during the Sunday morning high tide.

Though the tide is not expected to be as high as recent storm tide cycles, “we have some concerns for the east-facing shorelines Sunday morning,” including many areas hit hard by the storm two weeks ago, Simpson said.

The storm will generally bring 4 to 8 inches west of Interstate 495 with less as you approach the coast, said David Epstein, the meteorologist who blogs about the weather for Boston.com. He said the trend is for a slightly milder and weaker storm system than forecasters had originally predicted.

On Friday, winds will quiet down and skies will be sunny with a high near 38 in Boston, forecasters said.

Saturday will begin sunny with temperatures rising to near 40 before the storm begins. Next week will see a quiet start, though another storm system is set to knock the state Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Lauren Dezenski can be reached at lauren.dezenski@globe.com
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