Ushering in a month of frequent snowfalls and a continuing deep freeze, forecasters are predicting a significant storm with 6 to 12 inches for the Berkshires on Wednesday.
The winter storm watch issued by the National Weather Service on Monday morning pinpointed the heavy snowfall as beginning just after midnight early Wednesday, continuing into the afternoon. Difficult travel conditions are indicated for the entire day, with low visibility during the heaviest snow likely to come down at up to one inch per hour.
Although the county is on the northern fringe of a Monday storm that's bringing 5 to 8 inches of snow to the New York metro area, a stronger system from the Midwest will approach the area late Tuesday night, moving off the Atlantic coast by Wednesday evening.
Snowfall predictions have often fallen short this winter. But forecaster George Maglaras at the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y., cited "fairly high confidence that a significant snowfall will occur over the area." The only silver lining is that winds are not expected to be strong, he pointed out.
AccuWeather.com is forecasting just over 6 inches from the storm for Berkshire County. The government forecasters expect a range of 6 to 12 inches.
The winter storm watch is likely to be upgraded to a warning late Monday or early Tuesday as the system approaches.
Later in the week, dry but abnormally cold conditions are likely to hang on, with lows 0 to 10 above and daytime highs in the teens. The next potent snowstorm may move in next Sunday or Monday.
So far this winter, snow totals, as measured at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, have been running about 20 percent below the long-term averages. Since Dec. 1, temperatures have been below normal, but frequent, brief warmups have moderated the impact on heating bills.
At AccuWeather, a prolonged period of harsh winter weather is in the crystal ball. "For the next six weeks in the Northeast, we're going to be dealing with some pretty good cold coming down out of northern Canada," stated long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok.
A significant warmup for New England may be delayed until well into April, he added.
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