A storm system is expected to move into the Boston area early this evening, and by later tonight an unhappy cocktail of snow, sleet, rain, and ice could soak the city.
“Just kind of sloppy,’’ said Alan Dunham, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Taunton. “Not what you would call a clean system.’’
About 1 to 2 inches of snow are expected in Boston, mixed with rain and sleet, said Bob Thompson, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service. Even less accumulation — about an inch — is expected in southeastern Massachusetts. Communities outside Route 495 should expect 2 to 4 inches.
The North Shore and areas west of Boston are expected to be hardest hit, with heaviest accumulation at high elevation points near Worcester and on Mount Monadnock.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino will continue to monitor the forecast, spokesman said.
“Public works will be out there whether it’s an inch or a foot, and we’ll be ready for whatever comes down,’’ said John Guilfoil, a spokesman for the mayor’s office.
By mid-morning Sunday, flurries will replace the sleet and the heavy snow, Dunham said. The storm will start moving out of the region by Sunday night.
Significant costal floods are not expected.
“We’re in lower astronomical tides, and we’re expecting the center of the storm to be a little further away [out to sea,]’’ Dunham said.
The South Shore and Cape Cod, hit especially hard with heavy snow and power outages in the past two weeks, will be mostly spared, Dunham said. Plymouth County is expected to get 1 to 2 inches of snow, and Cape Cod will only see trace accumulations and up to an inch of rain.
The system is expected to clear away completely by Monday morning, giving way to two days of sunny skies and highs in the low 40s, Dunham said.
Temperatures will hover just above freezing Tuesday night, Dunham said, bringing mid-week rain Wednesday and Thursday.
“There may be another [snow] storm at the end of the week toward the weekend, but it’s too early to tell,’’ Dunham said.
Logan International Airport had no weather-related delays this afternoon, but MassPort spokeswoman Lisa Langone said passengers should check the status of their flights ahead of time.
The state’s Highway Division will only pretreat the roads with salt and magnesium chloride de-icer in less-rainy areas in Western Massachusetts, where they will be effective, said Michael Verseckes, a Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesman.
Coating the roads with salt works well for light, fluffy snow, but rain and sleet can wash away de-icer before flurries appear.
“We will certainly do what we can, but that’ll be limited by the kind of snow that we’re expecting,’’ Verseckes said.
Drivers should beware of what appear to be puddles, Verseckes said.
“It may look like water,’’ he said, “but odds are that it’ll turn into ice or black ice later on.’’