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Blizzard could bury New England’s bare grounds

  • Tom Cwick, of Los Angeles, cross country skis on machine-made snow at the Weston Ski Track in Weston, Mass., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.  A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Tom Cwick, of Los Angeles, cross country skis on machine-made snow at the Weston Ski Track in Weston, Mass., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Municipal trucks fill up with salt, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Portsmouth, N.H. as the Northeast prepares for a snowstorm later this week. The National Weather Service says the snow will start falling Thursday night, with the heaviest snowfall Friday afternoon and night. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Municipal trucks fill up with salt, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Portsmouth, N.H. as the Northeast prepares for a snowstorm later this week. The National Weather Service says the snow will start falling Thursday night, with the heaviest snowfall Friday afternoon and night. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • A woman walks on the partially snow-covered grass outside the National Center of Afro-American Artists in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.  A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow.  The sculpture at left is "Eternal Presence", by John Wilson. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    A woman walks on the partially snow-covered grass outside the National Center of Afro-American Artists in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow. The sculpture at left is "Eternal Presence", by John Wilson. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • With the museum grounds covered with leaves and bare of snow, J Lajik shovels the snow-covered walkway outside the National Center of Afro-American Artists after overnight flurries in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.  A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    With the museum grounds covered with leaves and bare of snow, J Lajik shovels the snow-covered walkway outside the National Center of Afro-American Artists after overnight flurries in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Municipal trucks fill up with salt, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Portsmouth, N.H. as the Northeast prepares for a snowstorm later this week.  The National Weather Service says the snow will start falling Thursday night, with the heaviest snowfall Friday afternoon and night.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Municipal trucks fill up with salt, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Portsmouth, N.H. as the Northeast prepares for a snowstorm later this week. The National Weather Service says the snow will start falling Thursday night, with the heaviest snowfall Friday afternoon and night. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Jeff Lacoy works to clear snow in front of the state house  in Concord, N.H., Monday, Jan. 14, 2008. Another snowstorm brought heavy snow falling causing delays on the roads, closed more than 500 schools, canceled flights, and shut down all legislative business at the state house. The storm is expected to bring a foot of snow before it ends this evening.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Jeff Lacoy works to clear snow in front of the state house in Concord, N.H., Monday, Jan. 14, 2008. Another snowstorm brought heavy snow falling causing delays on the roads, closed more than 500 schools, canceled flights, and shut down all legislative business at the state house. The storm is expected to bring a foot of snow before it ends this evening. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • Tom Cwick, of Los Angeles, cross country skis on machine-made snow at the Weston Ski Track in Weston, Mass., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.  A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Municipal trucks fill up with salt, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Portsmouth, N.H. as the Northeast prepares for a snowstorm later this week. The National Weather Service says the snow will start falling Thursday night, with the heaviest snowfall Friday afternoon and night. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • A woman walks on the partially snow-covered grass outside the National Center of Afro-American Artists in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.  A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow.  The sculpture at left is "Eternal Presence", by John Wilson. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • With the museum grounds covered with leaves and bare of snow, J Lajik shovels the snow-covered walkway outside the National Center of Afro-American Artists after overnight flurries in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.  A midwinter storm headed to the Northeast on Friday could drop more than a foot of snow. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Municipal trucks fill up with salt, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 in Portsmouth, N.H. as the Northeast prepares for a snowstorm later this week.  The National Weather Service says the snow will start falling Thursday night, with the heaviest snowfall Friday afternoon and night.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
  • Jeff Lacoy works to clear snow in front of the state house  in Concord, N.H., Monday, Jan. 14, 2008. Another snowstorm brought heavy snow falling causing delays on the roads, closed more than 500 schools, canceled flights, and shut down all legislative business at the state house. The storm is expected to bring a foot of snow before it ends this evening.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

A blizzard heading to New England could make travel nearly impossible and dump up to 2 feet of snow on a region that has seen mostly bare ground this winter.

The snow will start tomorrow morning, with the heaviest amounts dumped on the region that night and into Saturday as the storm moves through New England and upstate New York, the National Weather Service said.

A blizzard watch for parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island said travel may become nearly impossible because of high winds and blowing snow.

“This has the potential for being a dangerous storm, especially for Massachusetts into northeast Connecticut and up into Maine,” said Louis Uccellini, director of the weather agency’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

Uccellini, who has written two textbooks on northeastern snowstorms, said yesterday it was too early to tell if the storm would be one for the record books. But he said it will be a rare and major storm, the type that means “you can’t let your guard down.”

The storm would hit just after the 35th anniversary of the historic Blizzard of 1978, which paralyzed the region with more than 2 feet of snow and hurricane force winds from Feb. 5-7.

No one is wishing for a repeat, but skiers, snowmobilers and other outdoor enthusiasts were hoping for just enough snow to turn around a disappointing season.

The snowmobile season in northern New England started off strong, but after rain and warm temperatures last month, many trails in Maine turned essentially to thick sheets of ice, said Maine Snowmobile Association Executive Director Bob Meyers.

“People got a taste of it, and there’s no question they want some more,” he said.

Nearly all of Vermont’s snowmobile trails opened after Christmas but riding lately has been limited to hard-to-reach mountain areas. Riders hope this week’s storm will bring enough snow to cover bare and icy patches.

“I’d say maybe 75 percent of the trail system may be back up and running if we got a good 8-inch storm,” said Matt Tetreault, trails administrator for the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers.

Thanks to the ability to make their own snow, the region’s larger ski resorts aren’t as dependent on natural snowfall, though every bit helps. At Mount Snow in Vermont, spokesman Dave Meeker said the true value of the upcoming storm will be driving traffic from southern New England northward.

“It’s great when we get snow, but it’s a tremendous help when down-country gets snow,” he said. “When they have snow in their backyards, they’re inspired.”

Assuming the snow clears out by the weekend with no major problems, ski areas in Massachusetts also were excited by the prospect of the first major snowstorm they’ve seen since October 2011.

“We’ll be here with bells on,” said Christopher Kitchin, inside operations manager at Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford, Mass. “People are getting excited. They want to get out in the snow and go snow-tubing, skiing and snowboarding.”

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