The coldest air mass of the new year is about to press upon the region, complete with biting winds, and along with it comes the first threat of accumulating snow since mid-November.

“Everyone is looking at the weekend,” said Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly — where people are working without pay these days, by the way, due to the partial government shutdown.

Officially, the weather service forecast calls for a chance of snow in the region Saturday afternoon, with a 60 percent likelihood Saturday night.

The latest thinking is that mounts in and around Philadelphia would be on the nuisance side. But “There continues to be the potential for several inches of snow in parts of northeastern Maryland, Delaware and southern New Jersey,” the weather service said in its Wednesday afternoon discussion.

The region would be affected by two storms, one approaching from the west, and secondary -- and eventually more potent storm off the coast, which would be the one to generate heavier snows south and east of Philly.

Almost certainly, it will be cold enough for most of the region to see snow.

On Wednesday the computer models favored keeping the significant snowfall south of Philadelphia.

One thing is certain is the cold. A comparatively frigid air mass is sliding down from Canada, and temperatures aren’t due to get out of the 30s until early next week.

“There is snowpack in eastern Canada, so it’s able to stay fresh,” Paul Pastelok, an AccuWeather meteorologist and long-range forecast specialist, said of the cold-air supply.

Strong winds Thursday, gusting as high as 40 mph, are expected to drive daytime wind chills into the 20s.

Pastelok said a warm-up is likely early next week, but a longer-term cold spell is possible by month’s end.