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Dave Epstein

What to know about the major nor’easter heading toward Mass.

Waves struck Lynn’s King’s Beach last year during a nor’easter. The storm later this week is expected to bring coastal flooding.
Waves struck Lynn’s King’s Beach last year during a nor’easter. The storm later this week is expected to bring coastal flooding. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File/Boston Globe

I guess there’s a reason why the saying “March comes in like a lion” exists. The early part of March is still connected to winter, and the atmosphere can produce some whopping storms.

Thursday still feels like spring, but there is a major nor’easter brewing for Friday and the early part of the weekend. This storm has all the ingredients needed for quite the wallop, but because there’s not enough cold air around, the precipitation will mainly fall in the form of rain along the coast. There will be some snow, but exactly who gets rain and who gets snow is the most difficult part of the forecast.

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A large and intense ocean storm will affect Southern New England Friday into Saturday.

Snow potential

While this event does look like it will be mainly rain, there is the risk of some snow on Friday night as colder air works into the system. I don’t want to put amounts on a map because it’s almost guesswork, but the higher elevations and areas over central and western Massachusetts, the hills of Rhode Island, and Connecticut have the risk for heavy wet snow, which can bring down trees and power lines.

In spite of the lack of snow along the coastline with the upcoming nor’easter, there are still three other hazards that will affect most of us over the next few days. The storm is going to undergo rapid intensification Thursday night and Friday, and you’ll probably hear the words “bombogenesis” and “bomb cyclone” thrown around again. Just remember that those are meteorological terms describing storms that intensify rapidly, with atmospheric pressure dropping 24 millibars in as many hours. The terms might sound scary, but they’re neither new nor unique.

Coastal flooding and beach erosion

The nor’easter will affect as many as four high tides: Friday morning, Friday night, Saturday morning, and perhaps Saturday night. The reason why so many tides will be affected by the storm is that the storm itself is going to slow down and even stall around the Nantucket area. This is similar to other major storms including the Blizzard of 1978. I’m not forecasting that the damage will be as bad as it was 40 years ago, but this storm definitely is going to make its mark on some coastal locations.

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This is a coastal flood watch posted for our area that will be converted to a warning as we understand more details.

Coastal flood watch for Friday into Saturday

If you’re someone that has coastal property or coastal interests, now is the time to plan ahead. Check out the map above. The areas in green have the greatest chance for major flooding, while other areas will see minor or very little flooding at all.

Strong and damaging wind

Winds will be increasing Thursday night and peaking during the day Friday. At the storm’s peak, you should expect winds to be gusting more than 50 miles per hour along the coastline. We could even see winds as strong as 70 miles per hour over Cape Cod. Winds of these speeds can definitely take down some trees and power lines. The strongest winds will abate late Friday evening, but it’s still going to be breezy through Saturday.

Heavy rain and inland flooding

Because the storm will be taking a very slow path just south of New England there will be elements of heavy rain pouring in off the ocean. This means we could see anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of rain with some places exceeding that amount. This is enough to create small stream and urban street flooding as well as basement flooding. If you’re someone that is susceptible to basement flooding, check your sump pump over the next couple of days.

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The storm winds down later Saturday, and some sunshine should return Sunday. Temperatures will not be very warm early next week.