By Terry Eliasen, WBZ-TV Executive Weather Producer

BOSTON (CBS) – It looked like we were headed for an all-time winter: a brutally cold start to January and an Arctic-like nor’easter to kick off the New Year.

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And then, Mother Nature put on the brakes.

After blanketing all of New England with an early season snow pack, and spending much of last week sub-freezing, we were granted a reprieve. Our annual “January Thaw” arrived in the nick of time and just like magic, nearly all of our snow has vanished in the past 7 days.

Was that it? Was that Mother Nature’s best shot for winter 2013-2014?

Any long-time New Englander knows the answer is certainly a resounding NO.

Just look back at last year.  Boston had a whopping 3.8 inches of total snow for the season at the end of January before getting a 4-to-6 week snow blitz, hurdling us to an above-normal snowfall for the season.

So what’s next? Where do we go from here?

First things first.  We have some snowfall on the way Saturday. This represents a bit of a change to the forecast from recent days. What looked like just some rain and snow showers 24 hours ago, now looks like a more solid area of precipitation.

It will arrive early, in fact there may be some rain and snow before dawn on Saturday.  Thankfully it will be a quick hitter, only lasting at most 6-8 hours.

The tough call with this one is will it be rain or snow.

In eastern Massachusetts it certainly looks wet, not white. Temperatures at ground level are going to be much too warm to support snow. In order for Boston or areas close to the coastline to see snow Saturday, the precipitation would have to come down very hard, pulling down colder air from “aloft” along with it. This is not impossible, but it would be brief and likely not stick.

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So where might there be some snow accumulation?

North and west of Boston around Interstate 495, temperatures will be a bit colder, still above freezing, but perhaps just cold enough for the rain to mix with and change to snow.

There will likely be some scattered coatings and up to an inch from Worcester to Lowell to Nashua, New Hampshire.

Farther north and west, in elevated locations (Worcester hills, southwestern New Hampshire), there will be a better chance for a light snow accumulation, around 1-to-3 inches. Even here though, air temperatures will be near freezing or slightly above. Combine that with a week of temperatures in the 40’s and it may take a bit of work for snow to stick.

Finally, the “jackpot” with this event will be where they need it most, the central and northern ski areas. They’ll likely see 3-to-6 inches up there, which is terrific news for skiers and snowboarders.

This little snow event will just be the beginning of what will be a very wintry finish to January.

While there aren’t any big storms in the forecast for now, there will be plenty of cold air.

High temperatures for several days next week will only reach the teens, and it looks like the overall pattern for the next 1-to-2 weeks will remain very cold for the entire eastern half of the United States.

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ

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