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Neptune descends: Sub-zero temps, hurricane gusts, snow to slam Northeast

Beaten-down Boston's forecast for foot or more is downgraded -- for now.

A woman shields herself as she walks through the cold and wind in New York's finanReuters/Brendan McDermid

At the box office, it’s Jupiter Ascending -- but when you step outside the rest of this President’s Day weekend, Neptune is the star.

Winter storm Neptune started descending on the northeast with a up to an inch of snow forecast in Philly and up to three inches in New York. Boston, which has seen six feet of snow over the last three weekend, will once more get the worst of it -- six to 10 inches of the white stuff and the worst of the fierce winds and incredibly cold temps, some of the most brutal in 20 years.

“The bottom line, we aren't going to see as much snow as was potentially forecast,” meteorologist David Epstein wrote on boston.com’s Weather Wisdom blog. Originally, a foot or more was forecast for Boston, prompting officials to once more suspend all subway, trolley, commuter rail, bus and ferry service on Sunday. That decision remains in place.

While Valentine’s Day diners may have some minor accumulations tonight in Philly and New York between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., Boston love birds may find a bit more.

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“I expect 2 to 4 inches on the ground by 9 or 10 p.m. about the time a lull develops. If you aren't driving very far, why not keep the plans?” Epstein writes. Massachusetts’ businesses have suffered tremendous economic damage due to the weeks of snow and chronic problems with public transit (the head of the MBTA resigned Thursday.).

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Friday declared next week to be “Valentine’s Week,” urging state resident to make extra efforts to patronize small businesses. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh launched a shop local campaign with #LoveonMain Twitter hashtag.

Hurricane Gusts and Sub-Zero Temps

The big story with Neptune will be rarely-seen temperatures in the entire Northeast and high winds -- hurricane-strength gusts are forecast -- that could knock out power in vulnerable areas.

Weather.com reports: "Given the sheer strength of the pressure gradient between Winter Storm Neptune's offshore low and arctic high pressure over the Great Lakes and the resultant impressive wind gusts it will create over a large region, the threat of widespread power outages due to downed trees and powerlines is significant this weekend."

The worst of the cold is due for Sunday night into Monday, with single digits up and down the Northeast and as low as -10 in parts of New England.

In New York City, officials put out several alerts:

ON STAYING INDOORS: Stay indoors as much as possible an if you do go, really do listen to that timesless motherly advice: "You better bundle up. Where's your hat?"

ON HEATER SAFETY: The FDNY held a news conference on space heaters. "If you need to use a supplemental heating device, you should know that the only legal kind in New York City are electric space heaters," said FDNY Assistant Chief James Daly. "Both propane and kerosene-fueled heaters are illegal in New York City for use." (Safety tips can be found at this link - Click).

ON THE HOMELESS: The city Dept. of Homeless Services have sent crews outo to help get NYC's homeless into shelters. Call 311 if you see someone who should be out of the cold.

In Philadelphia, warnings went out on two fronts:

CAR THIEVES: There's been a huge spike in auto thefts, officials said, mostly due to motorists leaving their car unattended while it warms up.

ICY ROADS: Even salt can't melt snow and ice the way it usually does when temps get down this low, so be extra careful -- or just wait it all out at home.

 
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