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A winter storm named Electra is expected to bring major snow across much of New England today, with as much as 18 inches predicted in some northern areas of the region.

The storm, which started in the Midwest, is forecast to affect some 100 million people by the time it peters out in New England on Sunday.

In places such as Maine, which could see snow totals of 18 inches, it will be a ski lover's dream, but New Yorkers may be less enthusiastic since they just finished digging out from their fourth storm already this season.

"(Snow) doesn't make it easy, I'll tell you this," said Sergio Fernandes, manager Town and Country Caterers in Congers, N.Y., which was scheduled to host a holiday party for 120 employees of a car dealership Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Wendy Talarico was a bit more optimistic, calling the storm her "golden opportunity" as she stopped by Pedigree ski shop to buy new ski boots in White Plains, N.Y.

"I thought, this is my big chance," she said. "Last year, I didn't get to (ski) at all. This year, I'm planning to make up for it."

Utilities, airports and road crews had prepared for the wintry weather, which also was expected to bring ice to places such as Allentown, Pa., and heavy rain along the coast.

In Connecticut, a saltwater solution typically applied to roads before storms isn't an option since temperatures are too low and the saltwater would freeze, said Kevin Nursick, spokesman at the state Department of Transportation. Instead, crews treated highways with salt, which helps keep snow from bonding.

One plus, Nursick said, is that the storm won't affect work-day commutes. "The timing is pretty good coming on a weekend," Nursick said.

Not so for retailers, who with less than two weeks before Christmas face the prospect of losing critical weekend sales.

Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, said consumers likely will shop online. And the weekend before Christmas will give retailers and shoppers another opportunity.

"If a big storm hits around the 21st, 22nd, it will be a completely different story," Grannis said.

Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for Boston's Logan Airport, said he expects the brunt of the storm to arrive Saturday night but the airport will evaluate conditions as forecasts change.

"At some point, we'll start calling in more staff," he said.

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