Break out your winter gear and shovels -- the snow is coming back.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch that is expected to significantly impact the Tuesday evening commute -- when snowfall will be heaviest -- in most of the state.

According to a situational awareness statement from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the snow is expected to move into the western part of the state Tuesday, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., hitting the eastern part of the state between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Snowfall is expected to reach a rate of 1 inch per hour during peak evening commute hours. Areas north of the Massachusetts Turnpike will see 4-7 inches of snow, while areas south of the Pike will see 2-4 inches of snow, according to NWS.

According to detailed NWS forecasts, Greater Lowell should expect to see 1-3 inches of snow during the day Tuesday, and Greater Fitchburg will see 2-4 inches of snow. Both areas are expected to receive 3-5 inches of snow and sleet accumulation by Tuesday night.

The snow will transition to a wintry mix of mostly sleet and some freezing rain inland and to rain along the coast.

Slippery conditions are expected, with ice accumulations of up to one-tenth to two-tenths of an inch. However, tree or power-line damage is not expected.

Precipitation should end by the Wednesday morning commute, but there may be lingering icy spots in central Massachusetts and further west.

Follow Alana Melanson at