BOSTON (AP) -- Coastal towns in Massachusetts were bracing for powerful waves at morning high tide and commuters were facing a tough drive as a nor'easter offshore was bringing waves of snow, strong wind and water from the Atlantic to New England.
Snowfall of 8 to 12 inches was forecast in central Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island by Friday morning, with 6 to 10 inches in Boston and nearby areas.
"We are watching a conveyor belt of wave after wave of snow coming in over the Atlantic," said Alan Dunham, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. "The morning commute will definitely be a challenge," he said, especially for those headed into Boston from the south.
Powerful waves and high winds were expected to cause more trouble than snow.
In Scituate, Mass., a shoreline town about 30 miles south of Boston, emergency management officials were worried about getting through Friday's high tide.
"I think that's going to be very dangerous," said Scituate Police Chief Brian Stewart. He said the town had advised people in flood-prone areas to leave during high tides that began Thursday, when no major damage was reported.
"Why put yourself at risk?" he said. "Folks have been through this before, and they know what happens in these areas. We're recommending that people in areas that have experienced coastal flooding to evacuate three hours before high tide."
In Salisbury, Mass., on the New Hampshire border, officials ordered evacuations for homes along several beachfront streets flooded during a February blizzard.
A coastal flood warning was in effect for east-facing shores in Massachusetts, with possible 3-foot surges at high tide.
"The one we are watching is on Friday morning, after another 12 hours of strong northeasterly winds piling more water up," the National Weather Service's Dunham said.
On Cape Cod, where the storm was expected to be mostly rain, officials were concerned about beach erosion. The area suffered extensive erosion from Superstorm Sandy in October and a major snowstorm last month.
"We've really gotten more erosion in the last six months than we've experienced in the last decade," said Sandwich Town Manager George Dunham. "These three storms are really taking a toll."
Some less severe beach erosion was forecast along the southern Maine coast, and up to six inches of snow in southern Maine and New Hampshire.
In Connecticut, where up to 6 inches of snow was expected by Friday, people were hoping for a break after a snowy winter.
"I'm just wishing we'd be done with snow," said Steve Edwards, a contractor in Newtown. "We just finally saw some green grass."
The late-winter storm buried parts of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic before sweeping into New England.
In Virginia, three people were killed, including a 22 year old man who died after his vehicle ran off an icy road. Up to 20 inches of snow piled up in central and western Virginia, which had more than 200,000 outages at the height of the storm. The storm dumped 2 feet of snow in parts of neighboring West Virginia, closing schools in more than half the state and leaving more than 20,000 customers without power. Two North Carolina boaters were missing offshore after a third crew member was rescued Wednesday.