Forecasters predict less snow, but continue to warn of flooding along Mass. coast

A snowfall forecast map issued by the National Weather Service in Taunton. The westernmost part of the state is covered by the Albany, N.Y., office. which is predicting up to 6 inches in Berkshire County
A snowfall forecast map issued by the National Weather Service in Taunton. The westernmost part of the state is covered by the Albany, N.Y., office. which is predicting up to 6 inches in Berkshire CountyCredit:

A storm beginning Thursday is expected to dump up to 8 inches of heavy, wet snow in some areas of Massachusetts, while raking the state with strong winds and hammering the coast with powerful waves, the National Weather Service said.

The forecasters late this afternoon reduced the amount of snow they had predicted earlier, saying areas within Route 128 and along the coast could receive a modest 2 to 4 inches, with the Cape and islands receiving even less. The snow will pile higher to the west, with a pocket of Central Massachusetts receiving the most, 6 to 8 inches, according to a snowfall forecast map issued by the weather service.

The forecasters warned of slippery roads and strong winds bringing down power lines, as well as back-straining shoveling Most of the snow that accumulates is expected to fall Thursday evening into early Friday.

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While the snowstorm may not be as big as originally feared, the forecasters continued to warn of flooding along the east- and northeast-facing coast.

Issuing a coastal flood warning, the forecasters said there could be moderate flooding at the Thursday morning high tide, minor to moderate coastal flooding at the Thursday evening high tide, and moderate to major flooding at the Friday morning high tide.

Forecasters said Friday morning’s flooding could be the worst, with the “potential to be quite dangerous” and similar to, or even worse, than the inundations during the Blizzard of 2013.

“Our biggest concern is the coastal flooding threat,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Charlie Foley. He also predicted “considerable beach erosion with this storm ... due to the prolonged nature of gusty winds.”

Forecasters said waves could build to nearly 30 feet in some areas.

Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said coastal flooding is the major concern for this storm in terms of potential public emergencies. He said the expected beach erosion could lead to the demise of more beachfront homes as has happened this year in several communities along the coastline.

“It’s not going to surprise us,’’ he said of the prospect of more houses collapsing.

He said emergency response teams will be closely watching high tide at 7 a.m. Thursday, the first of the three high tide cycles.

With temperatures expected to be in the 30s, making the snow heavy and wet, the elderly and individuals with heart conditions should find someone else to shovel sidewalks and driveways, Foley suggested.

David Epstein, the meteorologist who blogs for boston.com, said there won’t be much rain or snow overnight or Thursday morning, but steadier rain and snow will move into the area after that.

The storm will spare the weekend, with skies clearing by Friday evening. Saturday and Sunday will see mostly sunny skies and highs in the low to mid-40s, though the storm’s northeasterly winds will linger, forecasters said.

“Hold out to the weekend and you’re fine,” Foley said.

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