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The first of a three-part dose of winter weather arrived Friday in northern New England, causing holiday travel headaches and forcing some people to change their plans. On Saturday, the storm could become a full-fledged ice storm , said CBS Boston meteorologist Eric Fisher.

Snow was falling across New Hampshire and Vermont and Maine, with accumulations of up to 8 inches expected in some areas by late Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

The snow sent cars sliding, and many schools closed early though stores remained busy with last-minute holiday shoppers. 

Meteorologist Michael Eckster said that fast on the storm’s heels will be another one on Saturday bringing enough freezing rain to create the potential for scattered power outages. The storm will be moving so fast that there won’t be time for heavy accumulations, he said.

People will have a narrow window to clean up before a coastal storm arrives late on Christmas Eve in Maine and New Hampshire. That storm brings the potential for another 3 to 6 inches of snow through Christmas Day. 

“Very much a white Christmas across parts of New England,” Fisher said. Other than the possibility of a few flakes in the Seattle area, the Northeast is the only area with snow expected.

Across the rest of the country, cold temperatures are expected to come down from Canada, bringing colder-than-average to the upper Midwest to even the Southeast, Fisher said. In Minneapolis, the high temperature is expected to be five degrees and Chicago is expected to have a high of 28 degrees, Fisher said.

If you are looking for warm temperatures, highs are in the 70s in Phoenix. 

Some people left the area earlier than planned on Friday. Others canceled their travel altogether.

“We were supposed to go see my mother-in-law in New York, and I said, ‘It’s not worth an accident. It’s not worth someone getting hurt,'” Sheila Wyncoop told WMUR-TV in Keene, New Hampshire. “So we’re bummed out.”

Utilities are monitoring the storms, and had additional crews ready for possible outages.

The greatest current risk is associated with the icing Saturday, “as small changes to temperature and storm track can have an enormous effect on this type of weather event’s impact,” said Alex O’Meara, a spokesman for Unitil in New Hampshire.

Central Maine Power tweeted that it’d been in contact with the Maine Emergency Management Agency and that trucks are fueled and equipped. “We hope the storm does not cause problems, but if it does, we’re ready,” the utility said.

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