Calm before the storm, snow forecasts lowered

Vineyard Haven Harbor in winter
A calm, clear winter day in Vineyard Haven Harbor offered little notice of the impending storm. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Updated 5:35 pm, Tuesday February 4, 2014

Southern New England is bracing for another strong winter storm. Heavy snow is predicted to move into the region after midnight, and continue into Wednesday, but the latest forecast predicts a changeover to rain by late morning, and the National Weather Service has lowered its forecast for the amount of snow on Martha’s Vineyard.

While much of the Boston area is expected to get a foot of snow or more, the weather service now forecasts 2 to 4 inches of snow on the Island by the time the storm winds down Wednesday evening.

The Steamship Authority has posted a weather advisory, asking travelers to check its website for updates on ferry schedules Wednesday.

Peter Pan Bus Lines has cancelled most of its New England and New York routes for Wednesday, including service from Woods Hole.

The weather service adjusted predictions Tuesday afternoon, forecasting that precipitation will change over to rain on the Island, by mid-morning Wednesday.

“Snow arrives 2 am to 5 am and then quickly becomes heavy by 6 am or 7 am with snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour,” weather service forecasters wrote in a winter weather advisory issued  Tuesday afternoon. “Snow will change to sleet and rain between 8 am and 10 am before tapering off to drizzle during the afternoon. Light snow or flurries may develop later in the day.”  The weather advisory is in effect from midnight Tuesday to 6 pm Wednesday evening.

Forecasters predict temperatures will hover around the lower 30s during the storm, with winds at 10 to 20 miles per hour, and gusts up to 25 miles per hour.

Those traveling off-Island Wednesday are advised to consider alternate plans by the weather service.

Forecasts for Boston and eastern Massachusetts communities call for 8 to 10 inches of snow from the fast moving storm, while the Worcester area is expected to get 10-14 inches of snow.