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Residents throughout the state bundled up and flocked to the stores Friday evening to stock up on winter essentials in preparation for the first major snowstorm of the season, which was expected to blanket some areas north of Boston with up to 10 inches of snow.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for late Saturday into early Sunday, with heavy snow and freezing rain possible statewide.

The storm was expected to begin with light snowfall just after 3 p.m on Saturday and intensify through the night into Sunday morning, the Weather Service bureau in Taunton said. Boston was expected to receive 4 to 6 inches of snow, while towns north and west of the city could see up to 10 inches, according to meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell.

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Temperatures will remain in the mid-20s throughout the day and night Saturday, and an east wind will bring wind gusts of about 24 miles per hour, the weather service said.

Shovels were on display Friday outside a hardware store on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. Some areas north of Boston could see as much as 10 inches of snow from the season’s first storm.
Shovels were on display Friday outside a hardware store on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. Some areas north of Boston could see as much as 10 inches of snow from the season’s first storm.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

“This is going to be a very quick storm, but there will be some pretty significant accumulation,” he said.

In Brookline, David Pairs, an employee at Aborn True Value, said the hardware store was busier than usual Friday.

“They all know it’s going to snow this weekend so they’re buying up all of the shovels, ice melt, car scrapers, and gloves — and you know, it’s still the holiday season, so all the Christmas tree stands, ornaments, stuff like that,” Pairs said.

He said the manager overstocks on winter supplies each season to prepare for New England snowstorms.

“My boss, he’s owned this store for 18 years, so he knows how to prepare beforehand. He’s going to have more than we need,” Pairs said.

And in another sure sign of winter, residents in South Boston on Friday were putting out parking space-savers before any flakes had even fallen.

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“The mayor has said many times in the past that he supports space-savers being used in some neighborhoods of the city, but that unwritten rule only goes into effect during a snow emergency when parking bans are issued,” said John Guilfoil, a spokesman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

Residents are being advised by the city to use public transportation during the storm and to keep their vehicle tail pipes, and building vents, clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

“The city is prepared for the storm, but it is always better for people to stay off the roads if they don’t have to be out, so public works crews can do their jobs,” Guilfoil said.

Along with residents making preparations, the state was readying, too. The Department of Transportation said it has 4,000 pieces of plowing equipment on call, and officials will be monitoring road-surface temperatures and deploying crews to plow and salt.

“We are anticipating a fairly lengthy storm,” said MassDOT spokeswoman Sara Lavoie, “so we are making sure we have people who are well rested and can be called in when we need them.”

The MBTA expects smooth operations this weekend but, as always, advises commuters to check its website for schedule updates.

MBTA spokeswoman Kelly Smith added that the heaters built into the rails’ switchers and the trains’ third rails will be activated Saturday morning to melt anything on the tracks.

As for air travel, passengers were advised to check their airlines for delays or cancellations at Logan International Airport, Massport spokeswoman Miraj Berry said.

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Sandy Khoury, the manager of Bell’s Market in South Boston, said she is anticipating a lot of last-minute shoppers Saturday morning.

Khoury said that to prepare, she has stocked additional milk, break, water, and flashlights. She added that her store is also well-stocked with beer and wine.

“Sometimes they say [there will only be] a couple inches of snow, and it ends up much more than that,” Khoury added, recalling that she and several employees had to sleep in her store for two nights during last winter’s blizzard.


Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at Haven.egresitz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @HavenTaylor.