Wednesday December 26, 2012

The area is bracing for its first major winter storm in more than a year as Mother Nature prepares to dump a mixed bag of precipitation over a 24-hour period across the Northeast.

Local highway crews have an army of snowplows equipped with salt and sanders ready to attack the snow, sleet and freezing rain forecasters are expecting between late this afternoon until early Thursday.

"We're all set to get going," said Dennis Kelly, assistant superintendent for the Lee Department Public Works.

The National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y., has all of Berkshire County under a winter storming warning as 6 inches or more of snow and ice is likely during a 12-hour period. If the prediction holds true, the snowfall amounts would be the most since the pre-Halloween storm in 2011 that covered the area with up to 2 feet of snow.

However, some areas south of Pittsfield may see less than 6 inches as the precipitation mixes with or changes to rain during the day on Thursday as temperatures are expected to rise into the mid 30s before turning colder again.

In anticipation of significant accumulation, Pittsfield has already declared a snow emergency from 11 p.m today through 7 a.m. Friday. No vehicle is allowed to park or be left unattended on any city street, except North Street where parking is allowed between the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the snow emergency. Violators will have their vehicles towed at the owner's expense.

Individuals who have no off-street parking available may park their cars in the three-hour public parking areas of the McKay Street and Columbus Avenue parking garages without penalty.