PITTSFIELD -- It may be tempting to venture out onto the snow-covered ice of local lakes during this weekend's unseasonably warm weather, but city of Pittsfield Park and Open Space Program Manager and Harbormaster Jim McGrath says it's not a good idea.

"It's a little deceptive because of the snow cover," McGrath said. "Stay off the ice."

The National Weather Service is also advising residents to stay off the ice-covered waters, which are expected keep melting as temperatures reach into the 60s today.

"You should definitely not be venturing out into any bodies of water with ice on them," National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Villani said. The ice, he said, is "probably pretty thin."

On Saturday, a few diehard ice fishermen ventured deep out onto Pontoosuc Lake, but they were the exception.

"Most folks know not to get on the ice this time of the season," McGrath said. "The ice is absolutely unsafe."

Pittsfield has two public lakes open for ice fishing, Pontoosuc Lake and Onola Lake, McGrath said. Pontoosuc Lake is harder to enter, he said.

At Smitty's Sporting Goods in Dalton, an employee said some people were coming in for live bait but not purchasing much fishing equipment.

Temperatures in the Berkshires were in the 50s.

"We're definitely seeing the snow melt," Villani said. He expects the snow and ice to melt at an "accelerated" rate today. "It will probably soften [the ice] at least if it doesn't [totally] melt it."

Rains were expected to move in from Saturday night into this morning. The rain should stop by the afternoon, Villani said. Temperatures will hit a high in the low 60s this afternoon, he said. "Quite warm for the latter part of December," Villani said.

On Monday, temperatures will drop into the 40s, and drop into the 20s by Tuesday, Villani said.

The warming temperatures have also delayed the opening of the city's rope tow at Osceola Park, McGrath said. Once the weather gets cold enough again, McGrath said the city will make an announcement about when the rope tow will resume.

"We need mother nature to cooperate," McGrath said.

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
nmayberg@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6243