Thursday September 20, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The soggiest weather of the summer season-- which officially ends Saturday -- barely made a dent in erasing the Berkshires rainfall deficit for the year, area forecasters said on Wednesday.

Local public works officials also say the 2 to 3 inches of precipitation from Tuesday's double-barreled severe weather did little to raise their towns' reservoirs, which have been below normal for several months.

The heavy downpours from the day and night time storms dumped a total of 2.3 inches of rain on Pittsfield, the most since summer began June 21.

Despite the soaking, the city is 6.6 inches below normal for the year in the total amount of rainfall and water content from melted snow, according to the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y. To date, Pittsfield has recorded 25.32 inches of precipitation, compared to the annual average of 31.95 inches.

"[Pittsfield] was so much below normal, it wasn't much of an impact," said NWS met eorologist Kevin Lip ton. "The little drop in the bucket was quickly soaked up by the vegetation."

In Lenox, the two-inch rainfall recorded in Lenox did "next to nothing" to replenish the town's reservoir, according to public works superintendent Jeffrey T. Vincent.

"The water level is still 10 feet below the spillway [and] we're at 68 percent capacity," Vincent said. "The good news is the rain may curb outside water use."

Public works officials in Pittsfield and Lee also report Tuesday's rainfall had little impact on their drinking water supplies, but say their reservoirs are at respectable levels for servicing water users.


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"We're still down, but we've been good all year," said Lee's public works chief, Christopher Pompi.

Pittsfield Public Utilities Commissioner Bruce I. Coll ingwood said there isn't cause for alarm that Cleveland Reservoir, the city's main water supply, is down 10 feet.

"We aren't in any kind of trouble," he said. "We're nowhere near a drought situation."

By Wednesday afternoon, the situation had greatly improved for the more than 2,200 Berkshire County homes and businesses that lost power due to the Tuesday night storm.

The county's two electricity providers, Western Massa chusetts Electric Co. and National Grid reported all customers, except for a few scattered outages, were back on line by late afternoon.

At the height of the storm, WMECO had 1,400 Berk shire customers in the dark, primarily in Pittsfield, Lee, Dalton and Becket. Florida and North Adams accounted for nearly half of National Grid's 815 North and South County customers who lost electric service.

Wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph brought down numerous trees and tree limbs, and power lines with them, when Tuesday's second storm blew in between 7 and 8 p.m. The daytime storm systems also had similar wind gusts, but resulted in minimal tree damage and very few outages, municipal and utility officials said.

Local highway crews spent Wednesday cutting up and removing the fallen trees and limbs, mostly on area roads, brought down by the gusty winds from Tuesday's nasty weather.

"We worked all day and will again [on Thursday], cleaning up the mess," said Vincent of Lenox's cleanup. "We have enough to keep us busy."

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.

Soaked, but not saturated

Rainfall amounts from Tuesday's storms, which forecasters say still left the Berkshires with a six-inch deficit for the year.

Becket 2.87

Lanesborough. . . .2.40

Pittsfield. . . . . . . . 2.30

Savoy. . . . . . . . . . .2

Lenox. . . . . . . . . . 2**

Stockbridge. . . . . .1.90 Source: **As recorded by the Lenox Department of Public Works. All other figures courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Albany N.Y.