By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Up to 8 inches of snow is expected to fall over parts of the Northeast this weekend, and a wintry mix could make for a messy Monday morning commute in New York, Boston and other cities, the National Weather Service said on Friday.
Ski area operators and children anxious to sculpt snowmen rejoiced at the forecast calling for the first significant snowfall in the region in months.
Rhode Island, parts of Connecticut and central Massachusetts were expected to be hit the hardest from twin snowstorms, beginning Friday evening and followed by a second storm late Sunday.
"Bring it on!" said Tom Meyers, spokesman for Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Massachusetts, about 50 miles west of Boston.
Starved for snow since a pre-Thanksgiving storm, the 2,000-foot elevation resort covered its trails with man-made snow but when people do not see snow in their backyards, they think the mountain will be bare too and stay away, he said.
"The natural snow will be the icing on the cake now," Meyers said.
The weather service said the same system that brought heavy snow to the southern Plains would bring a wintry mix to the mid-Atlantic and New England at the start of the weekend.
Cities including New York, Boston and Philadelphia were expected to get 2 to 4 inches of snow and sleet starting Friday night and ending by sunset on Saturday, said Brian Hurley, NWS meteorologist. Less than an inch was expected for Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, changing to rain.
"The blockbuster part of this storm - 4 to as much as 8 inches - will be in the Northeast interior, particularly central Massachusetts," NWS meteorologist Bill Simpson said.
Heavy snowfall also was expected in West Virginia, central Pennsylvania, northern Connecticut, southeastern New Hampshire and southeastern Maine, Hurley said.
A second snowstorm with lighter, drier snow was expected to sweep up the East Coast on Sunday night, with the heaviest accumulation on Massachusetts' Cape Cod, which could get 2 to 4 inches before the storm ends on Monday, Simpson said.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Eric Beech)