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Southern New England could see a storm with the potential for heavy snow this weekend, forecasters say

People shoveled out their cars in Dorchester on Jan. 7 after a high-intensity storm covered Massachusetts.Erin Clark/Globe Staff/file

A storm with the potential to bring heavy snow to southern New England could move into the region this weekend, forecasters said Tuesday, though they cautioned that the intensity and track are unclear four days from its potential arrival.

The storm brings the potential for heavy snow, wind, and coastal flooding, and the most severe effects would likely be Friday night and Saturday, but its severity and track are not yet clear, said Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“As far as how much snow, how much wind, how much surf, it’s really too early to tell,” Dunham said. “There’s a lot of potential for a lot of things to happen.”

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“Whether it’s all snow, whether there’s snow changing to rain, there’s just a multitude of things,” Dunham continued.

On Twitter, the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center said Tuesday morning that “confidence is increasing that a significant winter storm will create considerable impacts Friday through the weekend from the Mid-Atlantic through the Northeast.”

For the East Coast stretching from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Maine, and the surrounding areas, the weather service said “significant snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain is becoming more likely for the region, including the I-95 metropolitan areas.”

In a forecast discussion posted online, the weather service said late Friday night and Saturday is the most likely window for a “potentially high impact winter storm across southern New England.”

The forecast discussion said they anticipate that the storm will “rapidly strengthen” as it moves north up the East Coast, but it’s not yet clear how closely the storm tracks to the southern New England coast. A number of ensemble models have shown the storm moving along the coast with various distances from the shore.

The weather service cautioned that it’s too early to predict specific snowfall amounts and “all options remain on the table including a shift further west.”

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One certainty, forecasters said, is that astronomical tides will be high on Saturday, which could lead to “significant coastal flooding issues,” the weather service said.

“There’s the Saturday morning tide and then the Saturday evening tide. If things go a little slower, it would be the Saturday evening time that would have the greater impact. If it moves faster and weaker then it would be the morning time, but again, it’s too early to tell,” Dunham said.

With all the unknowns, what people can do now is prepare for the possibility of a storm this weekend and continue to check weather forecasts as the track and intensity of the storm becomes clearer in the coming days, Dunham said.

“For now, what you can do is prepare for the potential of an impactful snowfall with accompanying strong winds,” forecasters said online.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.