By Jim Smith

BOSTON (CBS) — “You can feel it. You can really feel winter coming.”

New England was bracing Sunday evening for a messy Monday morning due to wintry conditions, with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation telling motorists the morning commute would be “a challenge.”

The WBZ AccuWeather Team issued a STORM WATCH/WEATHER ALERT for Sunday night into Monday morning. The coming storm was expected to be minor, but the alert was issued because of the potential for tricky travel during the storm’s time frame.

WBZ Storm Watch: Snow Will Make For Tric”you can feel it you can really feel winter coming”ky Travel Sunday Night Into Monday

By early Sunday evening, highway crews were already getting ready to fill those plows with sand and salt. The grey skies moved in and the temperature dropped, a warning for drivers on the Mass Pike.

For a few more hours, no problems. But late tonight and very early Monday morning? It could be a bit slick.

“It’s funny how quickly we forget. A little bit of snow, you gotta drive cautiously. People just flooring it…no no you gotta ease off a little bit,” one driver told WBZ.

State police advise all of us to take it easy. It doesn’t take a lot of snow to create a hazard and the message seems to be getting through.

“You gotta drive slow, gotta take precautions because there’s a lot of people out there trying to get to their families. You think people drive too fast in the snow? Sometimes yeah they do and that’s what makes accidents happen,” one woman said.

Sunday night, drivers had no problems on the Mass Pike, as traffic was moving right along with no hint of the approaching messy Monday morning commute.

But people were getting ready. Crews were busy laying down salt everywhere. Truck drivers like Doug Donohue have some advice for drivers when the weather does move in.

“Slow down, stop trying to pass at sixty miles and hour. Leave a little more room maybe yes definitely…following distance. I know you know, but it’s hard to stop this vehicle on a dime right? Right yes, even on dry roads, it’s hard,” Donohue told WBZ.

In Boston, public works crews were busy getting 270 pieces of equipment ready to treat the city’s roads.

Further out west along the pike, they got the heavy equipment out early, moving it into position at the salt and sand piles.

It might be a good idea to leave some extra time Monday morning, even if there is a changeover to rain. Take it from a snow veteran from Maine.

“I’ve been driving in snow storms and blizzards my whole life and it’s not the storm, its the people. I was gonna say-Do you worry about the rookies out there the first snow of the season? Absolutely, you have to look for tail lights and keep a good distance.”

Meanwhile, the company that runs the commuter rail system released a video saying it’s ready for winter. Keolis says it has better snow-removal equipment and an upgraded locomotive fleet. Keolis was heavily criticized for major difficulties two winters ago.

“Planning for this winter began last spring. The team here at Keolis has been working ceaselessly throughout the summer to get ready for whatever winter throws at us and I have to tell you, I don’t think we’ve ever been more prepared,” Keolis spokesman David Scorey said in the video.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the transportation organization was not expecting a significant impact on MBTA services from the storm.

But MassDOT on Sunday afternoon said the storm’s timing would affect the commute, and warned drivers to clear snow from their windows and mirrors, drive slowly, use breaks carefully, and leave plenty of room for stopping. In a release, they directed drivers to more safe winter driving tips on their website.

“Everyone’s trip to work, school, and other destinations will be longer tomorrow morning because the precipitation will mean snow or slush covered roads, poor visibility and in some cases ‘black ice’ conditions,” MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “If people can stay home they should.”

“If they have to go out, they should build more time into their commute, consider using mass transit, or else travel later in the morning when temperatures rise and wet snow turns to rain,” he added. “As always, this winter weather should be taken seriously so people can stay safe and avoid situations that place themselves at risk.”

MassDOT said they were starting snow and ice operations at 5 p.m. in Western Massachusetts, and at 6 p.m., all other departments would activate their depots, storm desks, and radio rooms.

Due to the Boston area forecast and snowy conditions in the Midwest, Logan Airport officials also remind travelers to check with their airlines before heading into the airport.

As of Sunday evening, Logan officials report there are 10 cancellations and 20 delays on departing flights. There are 20 cancellations and 35 delays reported on arriving flights.

At the Home Depot at South Bay Plaza Sunday, there wasn’t quite a mad rush for shovels, scrapers, sand, and salt, but WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe did find a few people stocking up on the essentials.

One woman from South Boston said she hadn’t even heard about the coming storm until Tunnicliffe mentioned it to her.

“I would like a little for festive reasons, but parking in South Boston’s gonna be tough,” said Mary O’Toole. “But hopefully we’ll get through it.”

Others weren’t so worried about the forecast.

“I’m not really concerned, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be bad,” said another man. “Not like two years ago.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports

Jim Smith