Wednesday November 7, 2012

DALTON -- By tonight, many Berkshire County residents could see the season’s first measurable snowfall as another storm system moves along the East Coast.

Although it’s not expected to be as strong as Hurricane Sandy, which knocked out power to thousands, the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., said Tuesday that wind gusts could reach 45 mph at higher elevations and some areas could see up to 4 inches of snow.

"There’s certainly the possibility of scattered power outages," said NWS meteorologist Hugh Johnson. "The storm is tracking well east, off the coastline, but we’ve got a pretty good shot of getting plowable snow [tonight], we’re just not sure how heavy it’ll be."

Temperatures are expected to be in the low 30s just before 5 p.m., with the peak of the storm hitting an hour or two afterward. So if there is accumulation, it’ll probably stick, he said.

As of Tuesday night, the nor’easter appeared as if it would be short-lived, with temperatures rising to the 40s on Thursday and Friday and the mid-50s during Saturday and Sunday.

But Johnson said there’s also a "real chance" the storm could grow.

"If this storm were to energize, or track a little further toward the coast, it’d create a much higher accumulation over a couple of days," he said.

Johnson said he expects sustained wind speeds of 20 mph.

Dalton and Pittsfield officials are asking people to check on their neighbors and avoid driving if possible.

Since Sandy wasn’t as disastrous for the Berkshires as expected, most people said they were already prepared if power was knocked out or if snow prevented them from traveling.

Jesse and Desiree Robert son-Dubois, the managers at Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton, spent Tuesday preparing their winter crops for the potential cold weather by installing quick hoop tunnels lined with greenhouse plastic.

According to Desiree, the structure can withstand very high winds, and it keeps the temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees even during the winter months.

"Even if we get a big snow dump, the veggies will just get big and happy in there," she said. "The ground never truly freezes, so each of the crops can continue to grow until we harvest them in January or February."