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Boston is bracing for a storm that began early Friday and could leave up to 8 inches of snow by this afternoon.

The snowstorm is forecast to be at its heaviest between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., posing potential traffic-snarling issues for morning commuters.

According to National Weather Service meterologist Stephanie Dunpen, early morning commuters can expect a mix of mainly rain, with some snow and sleet, as the the precipitation transitions to snow.

“People driving need to be cautious,” said Dunpen, noting that the weather could reduce road visibility and create hazardous conditions.

Winter storm warnings were in effect for Boston and a majority of Eastern and Central Massachusetts from late Thursday until 3 p.m. Friday, according to the weather service. Around 11 p.m. Thursday, the winter storm warnings were expanded to northeast Connecticut and parts of Rhode Island, meterologist William Babcock said.

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The expected snowstorm led Boston to cancel all public schools on Friday.

Cape Cod and the islands, which were previously thought to receive the brunt of the storm, are now only expected to get 1 to 3 inches and are under a winter storm watch.

The storm brought rain late Thursday night into the area, and was expected to begin freezing and turning to snow overnight, likely between 1 and 3 a.m., Babcock said.

The city’s Public Works Department will have 500 trucks salting streets by 6 a.m, with 40,000 tons of salt on hand, the mayor’s office said. Two truck-mounted snow blowers will also be available for snow removal to clear main roadways.

Snow could fall at a rate of one inch per hour in some areas.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said in a situational awareness statement that the snow will likely lead to “hazardous” driving conditions and the Friday morning commute will be affected.

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“This will be wet snow and the accumulation on trees and power lines could result in isolated power outages,” MEMA said.

A snow emergency has not yet been declared, Boston officials said, so residents should not use space savers on streets.


John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff and Globe correspondent Mina Corpuz contributed to this report. J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.