Flood watches are in effect in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island beginning Tuesday morning and stretching into the evening, with significant flooding possible in urban areas and areas with poor drainage.
Some coastal areas are also bracing for high winds. The weather service is predicting winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts of 50 mph possible.
"It's a significant coastal storm that's going to be approaching southern New England from the south" on Monday night, said Kim Buttrick, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Taunton, Massachusetts. "We do have multiple hazards with this storm. ... There's a lot going on."
Minimal snowfall is expected along the heavily traveled Interstate 95 corridor from Philadelphia to Boston, but winter weather advisories have been issued for parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire that are farther inland.
In Massachusetts, the storm is expected to bring mostly rain and strong winds to the eastern part of the state, but some parts of western Massachusetts could see 6 or more inches of snow on Tuesday.
Some higher elevations, including New York's Catskills and Adirondacks, could get up to 2 feet of snow through Thursday before the plodding storm takes its leave.
The heavy, wet snow and gusty winds could combine to bring down tree limbs and power lines, causing outages.
In New Hampshire, which is expecting a mix of rain, snow and sleet, power companies were making preparations for the storm, which comes less than two weeks after nasty Thanksgiving weather knocked out electricity to more than 200,000 people.