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BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Thick, heavy snow began falling across much of New England Thursday, with some areas receiving 16 inches of snow in spots--while dangerous heavy wind gusts and high tides threatened coastal flooding and power outages.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Storm Center

Blizzard warnings were in effect until 7 p.m. for coastal Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, and the rest of Massachusetts was under a winter storm warning.

The National Weather Service said the snow was expected to taper off between 7-9 p.m. Thursday night--but said winds would remain blustery, causing blowing and drifting snow through Friday.

They warned of a flash freeze for the Cape, Islands, and coastal Plymouth County, as cold air surged in after the storm. 

According to a MEMA outage map, over 9,000 people in Massachusetts were without power at 8:00 p.m.

MEMA Officials urged those without power to stay with friends, family, at hotels or a nearby shelter (call local public safety officials or 2-1-1 for shelter locations).

Power Outage Safety Tips From MEMA

"We're experiencing high winds already, particularly on the south shore, south coast of Cape Cod," Eversource's Mike Durand told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. "We currently have about 2,000 customers without power. Roughly 1,400 of those customers are in Provincetown, at the tip of the Cape."

The heaviest snow was slated for Southern New England, including Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts.

Snow Emergency In Effect In Boston; Mayor Walsh Urges Caution

The National Weather Service says the area of eastern Massachusetts between Worcester and Boston could get between 12 and 18 inches throughout the day Thursday, with 8-12 inches due in central and 6-8 due in western Mass. 

He said 9 to 14 inches were expected for Boston. 

Lower accumulation is expected on the Cape, where the precipitation started as rain.

There will be some leftover snow Thursday night, blowing and drifting, as the low drops to 13 degrees.

Gusts of up to 65 to 75 mph were expected along the coast, and NWS said damaging gusts could result in "widespread power outages."

Before 9 a.m., a 76 mph gust had already been recorded on Nantucket. 

Widespread coastal flooding hit the Massachusetts coast from Boston to the Cape.

"This is the first time I've ever seen the water come up so high in the downtown area," Boston Fire Commissioner Joe Finn told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Storm Brings Flooding Across MA, Water-Level Record In Boston Harbor

"The other issue is with the mid-day high tide," Joe Dellicarpini of the National Weather Service told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. "We're looking at moderate to perhaps major coastal flooding along the entire eastern Massachusetts coast, along the shorelines that face to the east and to the north."

He said the areas south of Boston were particularly at risk, and the ice in the harbor and inlets could cause more damage.

The National Guard stationed high water vehicles in Marshfield, Scituate, Hull, Braintree, and at the Hingham National Guard Armory in case of flooding.

After the storm passes Thursday night, the area is expected to go back to a deep freeze.

"Actually, the air mass will be a little bit colder than it was last week," Dellicarpini said. "We're looking for wind chills of perhaps 20 to 30 below zero from late Friday into Saturday morning, so people need to be aware of that--after the snow ends, the winds will be continuing right into Saturday."

Wind chills will be as low as 15-35 below zero on Friday night, with gusts from 35-50 mph.

NWS said temperatures will hover around 10 degrees on Friday and Saturday.