UPDATE - 4:43 p.m.: The National Weather Service has upgraded this morning's Winter Storm Watch to a Blizzard Watch, warning of a potentially historic nor'easter bringing 1 to 2 feet of snow across much of the region.
Todd Manni of the Smithfield EMA reports accumulations could range between 10 – 18 inches with the potential of 12 – 24 inches in areas. Northeasterly winds of 25 – 35 mph may gust as high as 50 mph, resulting in downed trees and power outages.
In the event of a power outage, Manni said the EMA would open a warming center/shelter should a power outage or other utility interuption (such as a gas leak) that is expected to last for a period of 3 or more hours. Either the Smithfield High School or the Smithfield Senior Center would be used, he said, depending on the number of persons requiring assistance.
12:30 p.m.: Local and national forecasters agree on one thing, at least — there's the potential for a major winter storm Friday night into Saturday.
Keep an eye on updated weather conditions with the Smithfield Patch Weather Page.
But whether Smithfield gets the foot-plus being predicted in some places, or just a dusting, remains the topic of widely-varying speculation.
Of course, talk of snow during the 35th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78 could also inflate expectations.
As of 8:20 am Wednesday, the three Rhode Island TV stations had somewhat different takes on the approaching storm.
WPRI 12's Tony Petrarca wrote on his Weather Blog that he expects the snow to start Friday morning and last into Saturday, but added that "it's difficult at this point to get to detailed" about what kind or amount of precipitation to expect.
Mark Searles, meteorologist for NBC10, wrote on his Twitter feed that Providence could get up to 11 in. of snow on Friday, with closer to a foot near Worcester.
At ABC6, Steve Cascione noted generally that "Where the storm stays all-snow, several inches are possible."
The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for late Thursday night through Saturday afternoon, reporting "very high confidence," of accumulations of at least six inches, with a chance of about a foot of snow.
The NWS predicts the storm will begin Friday morning with light snow, increasing in intensity through the afternoon, briefly changing to rain before going back to heavy snow. By Friday night, snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour are expected, making travel "nearly impossible".
At this early stage, the NWS warned, it's too early to accurately predict how much snow may fall, since the storm system could include a mix or change to rain as it moves through the area.
What do you think?
How much snow will we get this weekend?
What are you planning to do in preparation for what could be a major storm?
Do you think this is all hype?
Have your say in the comments section below.