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It may not be so bad, after all.

The National Weather Service says a storm headed for the East Coast could hit hardest in the mid-Atlantic states and only sideswipe Massachusetts.

“The latest information shows most impact in the mid-Atlantic states with Southern New England just getting clipped as the storm passes well offshore,” the National Weather Service said in a forecast discussion.

The heaviest snow, perhaps several inches, can be expected on the state’s south coast, while just an inch or two is expected in the northern part of the state, the discussion said.

Newer computer models issued Wednesday have given forecasters a better handle on where the storm is headed, said weather service meteorologist Bill Simpson.

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“We kind of paint a likely probable scenario as we get new models... kind of fine-tune on the path,” Simpson said.

The latest results mean that the snow “won’t get quite as far north,” he said.

The weather service had been cautious in recent days about making any predictions about the storm, though at one point it raised the possibility of a foot of snow in some areas.

More models are expected to be issued in the coming days as forecasters keep a close eye on the progress of the storm.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency injected a note of caution late Wednesday afternoon, saying in a statement that there is “still significant uncertainty in the storm’s track and even slight shifts to the north or south may significantly alter the amount of snowfall, strong winds, and coastal flooding.”

“The areas that will be hardest hit will depend on the track of the storm as it moves north from the Tennessee Valley starting on Friday,” the agency said.

The agency said the risk remained for more than 6 inches of snow across Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.

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The snow is expected to last from early Saturday morning through Sunday morning, with the most intense snow coming Saturday afternoon and night, the agency said.

The agency warned of northeast winds of up to 60 miles per hour, with the strongest winds over the Cape and islands. High astronomical tides and strong winds coming in from the ocean may cause minor to moderate coastal flooding along the state’s eastern coast. The flooding is expected to be worst late Sunday morning to midday Sunday, the agency said.

Sunny days and daytime temperatures in the 20s are expected for Greater Boston until the arrival of the storm.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.com.J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.