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Boston weather, metro north and west: Snows ending, near record cold tonight

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As the snow comes to an end this morning cleanup efforts will continue throughout the day. This was a storm that we knew would bring a sizeable one two punch. Now that the snow punch is complete we are now in the midst of the arctic cold and this becomes the bigger story through tonight into Saturday morning.

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Northeast Massachusetts, in particular central and northern Essex County, took the biggest hit on the snow accumulations. Accumulations dropped off dramatically out along Route 495 and west with a general 5 to 7 inches, except along and near the New Hampshire border where 12 to 15 inches fell. However, it was the Boxford, Topsfield and Ipswich areas that recorded two feet of snow. Rowley notched 18 inches, Lynn 15 and Salisbury 11. Elsewhere, Boston 14.6, Wakefield and Wilmington 13, Framingham 9.7 and Westford 7 inches.

Some locations have seen 36 continuous hours of snowfall which is now mercifully coming to an end this morning. The coast will be the last to see the flakes end as the storm system departs into the Atlantic.

This was an unusually cold nor’easter with temperatures falling through the afternoon into the single digits, then near zero overnight. It made for a very dry and fluffy snow which made for easier plowing, shoveling and snow blowing efforts. However, it is much easier for the winds to create blowing and drifting snow conditions.

Thousands of flights were cancelled up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and disrupted travel by road and rail. Locally, schools for most districts were closed both Thursday and Friday with government offices ordered closed today by Massachusetts Governor Patrick.

Coastal flooding has been a concern throughout the storm and we have one more high tide cycle to get through. That is around midday Friday and the weather service continues with the Coastal Flood Warning until 3 pm this afternoon. Minor to pockets of moderate coastal flooding is expected along the north shore, with moderate coastal flooding likely along the south shore. The usual flood prone communities will have some effects of the flooding during this high tide cycle.

Looking ahead we have one of the coldest nights in years for tonight. Not only will the actual temperatures fall to sub zero levels but wind chills likely drop to dangerously low levels as well. The National Weather Service has a Wind Chill Advisory in effect until 9 am Saturday for wind chills that are expected to drop to around 15 below zero through mid morning Saturday. Temperatures begin to moderate Saturday afternoon through Sunday and the next disturbance is expected to bring rain late in the weekend.

Short Term Outlook:

This afternoon: A few flurries possible, otherwise turning partly sunny from west to east. Blowing snow at times. Very cold and windy. High temperatures only near 10 degrees inland, low teens Boston and along the coast. North to northwest winds gusting to near 35 mph.

Tonight: Bitter cold. Mostly clear skies and windy. Lows zero to 5 below along the coast, 5 below to near 10 below through the interior. Gusty northwest winds diminish later at night, especially inland.

Saturday: Sunshine with a bitter cold morning. Temperatures rebound into the mid and upper 20s in the afternoon. Southwest winds 10 to 20 mph.

Saturday night: Not so cold. Lows close to 20 with generally mostly clear skies.

Sunday: Clouds increase and there is a chance of rain by late in the day. Highs upper 30s to low 40s.

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