Snow is expected to begin falling overnight in some areas, promising a messy commute for the first business day of the new year, but the full storm isn't expected to hit until later Thursday. As much as a foot of snow or more is forecast for some areas overnight Thursday into Friday, and temperatures are expected to plummet, with some areas seeing highs just above zero.
"There will be travel problems," said Hugh Johnson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albany, N.Y., talking about Friday's commute. "It will be very cold. You don't want to be out in the stuff long unless you have the proper clothing."
Sections of interior southern New England and New York could get up to a foot of snow, with forecasts generally calling for 6 to 12 inches. New York City is likely to see 3 to 7 inches and issued a snow alert on Wednesday.
Near blizzard conditions are forecast for areas along the coast. The mayor of Bridgeport, Conn., already declared a state of emergency for Thursday, imposing special parking regulations so crews can plow.
In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee's office, the state police, the Department of Transportation and other state agencies held a conference call on New Year's Eve to prepare for the storm.
Officials said crews will be prepared to plow, sand and salt the roads or respond to any other problems that may arise.
"We're still trying to determine how much snow's going to come and when it's going to come," said State Police Capt. Kevin Barry, adding that authorities have been working with other groups to make sure they have the proper resources for the storm.
While the bulk of the snow is expected to hit southern New England and southern sections of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the prospect of any additional snow is welcome news for many areas farther north.
Thom Perkins of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in northern New Hampshire said the number of skiers during the first five days of Christmas vacation week increased 26 percent compared to last year.
"We seem to be in a sweet spot of snow," he said. "We've had a phenomenal season so far."
Over in Maine, where some communities are still recovering from last week's ice storm that cut power to more than 100,000 customers, people seem prepared for more winter weather.
Kelly St. Denis, of Auburn, was skiing Wednesday at the Sunday River ski area with family and friends. She said it's been cold, but the skiing has been good.
"Hey, it's winter in Maine. We go with it," she said.