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Forecasters warn of flash freeze, slippery roads

Pedestrians made their way across the Mass. Ave. Bridge in Cambridge.

Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

Pedestrians made their way across the Mass. Ave. bridge in Cambridge.

Be careful on that commute!

“The flash freeze has definitely made roads icy,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson. “Especially on the Mass. Pike and Central Massachusetts.”

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Forecasters issued a winter weather advisory warning that most of Massachusetts, excluding the immediate south coast, would see a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain, accompanied by wind gusts as fast as 40 miles per hour.

Between 1 and 2 inches of snow are expected to fall in most areas.

With temperatures plummeting after Wednesday’s rain, it’s a perfect recipe for slippery roads, forecasters said.

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To treat the slick byways, the state Department of Transportation has deployed 970 crews statewide, spokesman Michael Verseckes said.

One major accident tangled traffic this morning, he said. A tractor-trailer lost its paper debris on Route 128 southbound at Mishawum Road in Woburn. The ramp in the area will be closed for about half an hour, he said in a statement.

Icy roads and spinouts had been reported this morning mainly in the North Shore and Merrimack Valley areas, said Trooper Todd Nolan, a State Police spokesman.

Drivers should be especially careful on bridges and overpasses, the forecasters said in the winter weather advisory.

Commuters are also warned that untreated walkways, made slippery with ice, could become hazardous to pedestrians this morning.

Temperatures, which reached the 40s Wednesday afternoon in Boston, slipped under freezing at about 4 a.m. this morning.

The weather service says today will be a throwback to January with temperatures 20 to 25 degrees colder than they should be, bitter wind chills, and light snow. The highs today could even break a record — for cold. The lowest maximum temperature ever recorded on March 13 was 23 in 1885. It’s only expected to reach somewhere in the low 20s today, forecasters said.

The advisory issued by the weather service is in effect until noon today.

The boston.com traffic information service indicated that traffic is rolling slowly on major arteries around the region, particularly on the Southeast Expressway heading north to Boston and Interstate 93 heading south to the city. But state highway traffic cameras showed major roads down to black pavement.

Snow has been falling continuously this morning, but should end before this afternoon.

“It’ll end by late morning, but there might be a few flurries into the late afternoon,” Simpson said. “For Boston, it’ll be less than an inch.”

Temperatures will drop into the low teens tonight, with wind chill values as low as 0 degrees and blustery wind gusts as high as 28 miles per hour.

Dry and sunny conditions will reappear Friday as high temperatures reach the mid-30s. Clouds will arrive in the afternoon as low temperatures drop to 33 degrees. Some scattered rain showers could fall overnight, ending by mid-morning Saturday.

A bit of a warmup will arrive Saturday, with high temperatures reaching 50 degrees. Any remaining rain showers should peter out by 9 a.m., giving way to sunny skies through the afternoon. Low temperatures should sink to 29 degrees overnight.

Sunday will stay dry but be slightly colder, with highs cresting in the upper 30s. Skies will be mostly sunny through the afternoon, with low temperatures dropping to degrees and clouds arriving in the evening.

A cold front could move in early next week, bringing another possible chance of snow showers, forecasters said.

Catalina Gaitan can be reached at catalina.gaitan@globe.com. Follow her on twitter at @catalina_gaitan.
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