A massive winter storm is expected to slam the state on Tuesday, dumping 14 to 18 inches of snow across the region just days before the official start of spring, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters say a foot-and-a-half could fall from Western Massachusetts to the coast, with only the Cape and islands due for a smaller dose of between 3 and 8 inches. It is possible that northeastern parts of the state could get up to two feet of snow.


The National Weather Service issued a blizzard watch for the eastern part of the state from Tuesday afternoon until late at night.

Wind gusts could reach 50 miles per hour inland and 65 miles per hour along the coast amid the heavy snow. So-called thundersnow and coastal flooding could also accompany the storm.

After a relatively mild Monday, with temperatures in the 30s and some gusting winds, the snowfall is expected to begin in most areas between 4 and 8 a.m. Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson said.

Heavy snow will likely fall throughout the morning, reaching 2 to 4 inches per hour and creating whiteout conditions that will make for a dangerous morning commute.

“It won’t be good, that’s for sure,” Simpson said.

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The snowfall is expected to gradually wind down in Greater Boston starting around 7 p.m., but commuters should expect their travel home to be even worse than the morning with less visibility on the roads, Simpson said. It may continue to snow lightly overnight into Wednesday, Simpson said.

“We’re assuming a very slow and arduous evening commute,” he said.

It’s still not clear which areas will see rain and which will see snow, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Cadima. On Sunday night, forecasters were predicting that the Cape would get a mixture, holding down the accumulations there.

Tuesday’s snow will be accompanied by fairly cold weather, with lows in the 20s and highs in the mid-30s, but the winds will make the temperatures feel as though they are in the teens, forecasters said.

Boston has seen 39.2 inches of snow this winter, according to the National Weather Service. Tuesday’s storm is expected to push the city past its average total snowfall of 45 inches.

Olivia Arnold can be reached at olivia.arnold@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @olivia_arnold12. Reena Karasin can be reached at reena.karasin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reenakarasin.