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Powerful winter storm heading for Mass.

Cape Cod and the islands could be hit hard by a storm sweeping along the coast late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, forecasters say.

The National Weather Service is warning of potential blizzard conditions on the Cape and islands, with wind gusts blowing 55 to 65 miles per hour — and possibly even up to hurricane force, 74 miles per hour.

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“This may be a very serious storm for the Cape and islands with damaging winds along with heavy snow/blizzard conditions,” forecasters said in a discussion posted on the Internet. “The one thing we really want [to] emphasize is the potential for these strong and damaging winds.”

The winds could knock down trees and cause power outages, as well as whip the snow — 5 to 10 inches, with a possibility of a foot — into an impenetrable blizzard, forecasters said, noting that the Wednesday morning rush hour could be a tough slog in Southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and islands.

“The storm is really going to explode offshore,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson.

Forecasters also warned of minor to moderate coastal flooding on the Cape and on the north and east shoreline of Nantucket, predicting a storm surge of 2 to 2½ feet and waves up to 25 feet high just east of the Cape and Nantucket around the Wednesday morning high tide.

Beyond Southeastern Massachusetts, forecasters said, there will be a “sharp cutoff” of snow, and little or no impact is expected in the interior of the state.

A weather service snowfall total forecast map shows 6 to 8 inches of snow on parts of the Cape, with 8 to 10 inches on Nantucket. The amount of snow decreases as you head north and west.

In most of the Boston area, only 2 to 4 inches of snow are forecast, with only 1 to 2 inches expected in Central and Western Massachusetts, according to the map.

The forecasters also warned mariners of a dangerous storm packing possible hurricane force wind gusts and seas running 20 feet high across the eastern Atlantic.

The sun is out today, though it is chilly. The temperature reached 32 shortly before 4 p.m. at Logan International Airport in Boston. Temperatures are expected to plunge into the upper teens overnight.

Clouds will roll in Tuesday as the storm approaches. High temperatures are expected to reach the mid-30s before sinking into the 20s at night.

Wednesday will be mostly cloudy, with high temperatures in the upper 30s. The snow should peter out by 10 a.m. Skies should become clear overnight as temperatures sink to 21 degrees.

Relief will come as sunshine returns Thursday, with highs climbing near 40 degrees. Some clouds will arrive in the afternoon, and low temperatures should stay in the high 20s to low 30s.

Some rain showers could fall Friday. High temperatures will reach into the 50s. Cloudy skies will remain into the evening as temperatures drop to the 40s.

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