New England Newspapers staff

A prolonged onslaught of heavy snow, creating dangerous travel conditions, is expected to wallop Southern Vermont and the surrounding region, beginning Thursday morning.

The National Weather Service’s winter storm warning, in effect from 7 a.m. Thursday until 10 a.m. Friday, calls for total snowfall of 8 to 14 inches throughout western New England and sections of eastern New York. A mix with sleet is possible at times.

During the height of the storm as it tracks up the Eastern Seaboard to just off Cape Cod by Friday morning, snow could be falling at a rate of one to two inches an hour, or even more in some locations.

Because it’s a slow-moving, intensifying storm, travel is expected to be disrupted on Thursday afternoon during the homebound rush, and potentially Friday morning as well. North winds gusting as high as 30 miles an hour would make conditions even more perilous, according to the government forecasters in Albany, N.Y.

"As is almost always the case, the exact track of the coastal low will be crucial," states a report from The Weather Channel. "A track a bit farther offshore would draw snow toward the coast, while a farther inland track would shift the rain/snow line farther inland. Although subtle differences in the track of low could make a difference in where the rain/snow sets up, there is confidence that a swath of the Northeast will be impacted by heavy snow and strong winds."

AccuWeather.com is predicting a range of 10 to 18 inches for Windham County, with snow expected to begin soon after dawn and continue into Friday morning. The heavy, wet snow could down tree limbs and power lines, the private forecasting service stated.

The Deep South was hard hit by ice from the storm that originated in the Gulf of Mexico before its run up the coast.

In Boston, a rain and snow mix was on tap for Thursday, with 4 to 6 inches of slushy accumulation expected in the city, but heavier snow and some ice west of I-95.

New York City is also expecting a mix, but with 6 to 8 inches of snow before any changeover to sleet, freezing rain or rain.

Airports in the New York area, at Boston’s Logan and in Hartford and Albany are expected to post widespread cancellations for Thursday flights.