Scattered snowfall began on Long Island Tuesday evening, with some areas experiencing "snow squalls" -- short-lived, heavy snow showers accompanied by gusty winds and low visibility, according to the National Weather Service.

Lauren Nash, a meteorologist with the weather service in Upton, said Long Islanders could expect less than an inch accumulation of snow on the night before Christmas, and mostly in Suffolk County. Nash said most of the snow squalls were falling in Islip and points east, especially around Shirley and Ridge.

But with rapidly falling temperatures Tuesday night, those heading out to midnight Mass or running last-minute errands on Christmas Eve are urged to use caution.

"If any snow does melt along the roadways, it's going to cool down pretty quickly in the next couple hours so it could refreeze," Nash said.

Temperatures Tuesday night are expected to be in the high teens and low 20s, she added.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement earlier Tuesday warning of snow squalls and cold nighttime temperatures.

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"The snow may be briefly heavy . . . reducing visibility and coating the ground," the weather service said in the statement. While initially temperatures will be above freezing, the thermometer will drop into the 20s, "causing any wet snow and slush to quickly refreeze."

"Anyone traveling this evening is urged to use extra caution where snow showers have occurred or are occurring," the statement said.

Earlier, National Weather Service meteorologist David Stark said snow showers could also "whiten the ground a little" for Wednesday morning. That likely was not enough to meet the weather service's definition of a white Christmas, which is an inch of snow or more on the ground on Christmas Day.

As for Wednesday, look for a breezy, sunny day with some clouds and temperatures in the 20s, he said.