Snow falling lightly in Boston Saturday evening was the beginning of a storm that was expected to end in an unhappy cocktail of snow, sleet, and rain drenching the region.
With just 1 to 2 inches expected to accumulate in Boston, city officials said they were on alert.
“Public Works will be out there whether it’s an inch or a foot, and we’ll be ready for whatever comes down,” said John Guilfoil, a spokesman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
The North Shore and areas west of Boston were expected to be hardest hit, with accumulation of 4 to 6 inches at higher elevations near Worcester and on Mount Monadnock. Communities outside Interstate 495 could look for 2 to 4 inches.
Snow in Boston and points south was expected to be mixed with rain and sleet, said Bob Thompson, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service.
“Just kind of sloppy,” said Alan Dunham, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Taunton. “Not what you would call a clean system.”
The system was expected to clear by Monday morning, giving way to two days of sunny skies and highs in the low 40s, Dunham said.
But more precipition is on the horizon with rain expected Wednesday and Thursday — and the possibility of another storm into next weekend.
“There may be another [snow]storm at the end of the week toward the weekend, but it’s too early to tell,” Dunham said.
The tempered forecast — down from estimates in previous days and much less than the accumulation of the past two weekends — was a small relief for some communities, some already exceeding their snow removal budgets.
In Gloucester, Mayor Carolyn A. Kirk said the city has topped its $650,000 snow removal budget and will likely hit $1 million this weekend. To avoid ending the fiscal year with a deficit, the city may have to freeze spending.
“We’ll handle the snow to the expectations of the community, but we still have to find a way to pay for it,” Kirk said.
Fitchburg Mayor Lisa A. Wong said the city has about $140,000 of its $800,000 snow budget left – roughly what it spent plowing away the large storm two weeks ago.
But the start of spring is nearly a month away, and more snow – especially on weekends, when the city has to pay its workers overtime to come in and plow, could stretch spending closer to $1 million. Fitchburg may have to tap into a $200,000 emergency fund.
“We actually have enough for this weekend,” she said. “We might even have enough for the snow we expect later this week, but after that, the first City Council meeting in March, we’ll definitely be going in and asking for more money.”Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at email@example.com.