As thousands of customers remained without power across New England on Tuesday, forecasters warned that the next storm system arriving on Wednesday will bring more snow, heavy rains, and powerfully gusting winds that could cause more outages.
National Weather Service forecasters in Norton said the storm system will arrive Wednesday afternoon with snow but will gradually change over to heavy rain from south to north between 6 p.m. and midnight.
Snow could last longer in higher elevations Wednesday night, though it all should shift into rain by Thursday morning, according to Kyle Pederson, a meteorologist with the weather service.
The storm will be “a little bit stronger” than the system that struck the region Monday, and the rain it brings will be heavier than Monday’s precipitation, Pederson said.
“It’s hitting a lot of the same areas, but it’s a little bit different type of storm,” he said.
Pederson cautioned that the snow could begin in time to affect the drive home on Wednesday.
“Tomorrow’s afternoon commute could be another slow one,” he said.
[Upcoming Storm Briefing] Snow develops Wed afternoon & impacts the evening commute. Snow changes to heavy rain Wed night with the potential for pockets of street flooding and some minor Small River/Stream flooding across RI/SE MA. Period of strong winds & power outage risk too. pic.twitter.com/byhlqQM8e9— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) January 24, 2023
In Massachusetts, wind gusts could reach 50 miles an hour on Wednesday night, and street and coastal flooding is possible from the heavy rain, forecasters wrote. More power outages are possible.
“Once the high tide [arrives] Wednesday night, there’s a chance of some splash-over and minor flooding due to that,” Pederson said. High tide will reach the Massachusetts coast about 9 p.m., he said.
A coastal flood advisory will be in place from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 3 a.m. Thursday for southern Bristol and Plymouth counties and coastal Rhode Island, according to the weather service.
A wind advisory will be in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Thursday for Southern Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and the islands, the weather service said.
[NEW: Coastal Flood Advisory] Coastal flood advisory issued for Wednesday night high tide for the southern facing coastlines. Minor inundation of vulnerable areas is possible. Don't drive through flooded roads! #RIWX #MAWX #CTWX pic.twitter.com/gCG084y8MF— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) January 25, 2023
As the storm approached, school district officials said there would be early dismissal Wednesday in Auburn, Clinton, Framingham, Oxford, Southbridge, Uxbridge, Webster, West Springfield, Worcester, and the Athol-Royalston, Dudley-Charlton, North Middlesex, Southwick-Tolland-Granville, Spencer-East Brookfield, Quaboag, and Wachusett regional school districts.
Crossroads Continuum schools in Marlborough, the Darnell School in Hudson, the Nativity School of Worcester, and the Southern Worcester County Educational Collaborative will also be dismissed early on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, around 12,000 Massachusetts electric customers — primarily in Middlesex, Worcester, and Franklin counties — were without power by 2 p.m., according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Around midnight, that number had dropped to about 4,500.
Central Maine Power reported that more than 4,800 customers in that state were without power around midnight, and Eversource, the largest utility in New Hampshire, said more than 7,100 were waiting for power to be restored, according to outage maps from both companies.
Forecasters in Gray, Maine, said New Hampshire and Maine will be hit by the powerful winter storm arriving in New England on Wednesday.
“Low pressure brings a round of moderate to heavy snow late Wednesday afternoon and evening. Snow changes to mixed precipitation Wednesday night from south to north, with light ice accretion possible across interior areas,” forecasters wrote. “The precipitation likely ends as rain along the coastline and coastal plain Thursday morning, with snow or mix possible into the afternoon hours across northern areas and the mountains.”
Forecasters warned that in the early hours of the storm snow could fall at a rate of up to 1 inch an hour across Southern New Hampshire and Southwestern Maine. Winds in the area could gust up to 35 to 40 miles per hour along the coast.
New Hampshire officials encouraged residents to prepare for the coming storm by refreshing supplies and clearing snow and ice off their homes.
“Heavy snow can put stress on roofs,” New Hampshire State Fire Marshal Sean Toomey said in a statement. “If you have more than a foot of heavy, wet snow on your roof, now is the time to take action to safely remove it, to prevent potential structural damage or collapse.”
Forecasters also released a graphic showing that all but a slice of New Hampshire on the border with Massachusetts has a chance of getting 6 inches or more of snow through Thursday.
Snow will overspread the area from southwest to northeast tomorrow afternoon and evening and it may fall heavy at times. Snow will then gradually switch to rain from south to north by Thursday morning south of the mountains. Below is the chance for >=6" of snow. #MEwx #NHwx pic.twitter.com/YiwZBJMyKa— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) January 24, 2023
A winter storm warning for Belknap, Merrimack, Strafford, and Sullivan counties in New Hampshire and interior York County in Maine is scheduled to run from 3 p.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Thursday, according to the weather service.
“Periods of moderate and heavy snow will combine with low visibility to create dangerous driving conditions,” forecasters wrote. “The hazardous conditions could impact the Wednesday evening and Thursday morning commutes.”
A winter weather advisory for parts of Central and Western Massachusetts is scheduled to last from 1 p.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday.
“Travel could be very difficult,” forecasters wrote. “The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.”
In Boston, according to the weather service, temperatures hovered in the 30s Tuesday but felt like the 20s with the wind chill in the afternoon.
In Eastern Massachusetts, rain on Monday afternoon turned to heavy, wet snow that fell at a rate of an inch per hour in some communities, from the northern areas of Middlesex and Essex counties down into Bristol County and northern Rhode Island.
The snow tapered off Monday evening but schools in Worcester, Rockport, and Stoneham were among the districts that delayed opening Tuesday, or canceled class entirely, as they worked to clean up.
Communities in Western and Central Massachusetts reported the largest snowfall totals Monday. Hawley led the state with 11.4 inches as of 8 a.m., according to the weather service.
Meanwhile, Pittsfield, Maine, and Sunapee, N.H., tied for the highest snowfall total across the Northeast with 17 inches, and Rochester, Vt., saw the highest accumulation in Vermont, with 13.9 inches, according to the weather service. The highest total in Rhode Island was 3.9 inches in Cumberland, the weather service reported.
Boston saw 2.4 inches of snow near Fenway by about 6 a.m., while Worcester had 4.6 inches reported shortly after midnight, according to the weather service.
Princeton — which saw 7.2 inches of snow by about 9 p.m. Monday, according to the weather service — experienced town-wide power shortages Tuesday “related to an incident on the National Grid transmission line,” but power was restored by 3:20 p.m., according to the Princeton Municipal Light Department.
Paul Patriarca, Princeton’s chief of police, said local roads were mostly plowed and salted, and the majority of calls since Monday’s storm had been about fallen trees and cars in ditches.
“The town-wide concern is to just get power up and make sure everyone is safe,” Patriarca said before the outage was resolved. “We’re still just cleaning up trees, so far things are looking better,”
He said local schools were closed, but Thomas Prince School opened its doors Tuesday morning as a warming station for those without power, although the announcement was delayed by a lack of internet access at the police department.
Wachusett Mountain Ski Area lost power around 4 p.m. Monday, according to public relations manager Chris Stimpson. But electricity had been restored by 3:35 p.m. Tuesday, and the resort reopened for business from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., officials said. .
💡❄️Powered up and open for business! 4:00pm - 9:30 tonight, come and get it!!🏂⛷️ pic.twitter.com/eqiKaaMWlI— Wachusett Mountain (@Wachusett) January 24, 2023
More than 1,400 residents in Harvard — 60 percent of the town’s population — were without power as of 2:30 p.m., but that number had dropped to 29 by 11:45 p.m., according to the state emergency management agency.
State Police in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine on Monday responded to dozens of crashes as cars slid and spun off slick roads and highways, including one on Interstate 95 in West Warwick, R.I., that resulted in the death of the driver, Beatrice J. Batista, 25, of Central Falls, R.I.
In Acton, a pedestrian was fatally injured Monday around 11:45 a.m. in a hit-and-run crash. Authorities have not identified the victim. Police said the driver contacted them several hours after the crash and the investigation is ongoing.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe. Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.