The much-anticipated major snowstorm that prompted a statewide declaration of emergency by Gov. Deval Patrick was off to a slow start in much of Berkshire County on Friday afternoon. Most schools had closed early, a few for the entire day, and some businesses, city and town offices, museums and other gathering places altered their schedules.
Light to moderate snow was falling over most of the region by mid-afternoon, with the heaviest snowfall reported in the southeastern portion of the county, where up to 4 inches was on the ground.
The heaviest snowfall is expected between 6 p.m. and midnight on Friday, winding down gradually overnight before ending on Saturday morning.
Snow accumulation predictions run the gamut.
According to the National Weather Service forecasters, 12 to 18 inches of total snowfall remains the prediction for Berkshire County.
AccuWeather.com was anticipating 9 inches.
The Weather Channel, which has dubbed the storm "Nemo" in keeping with its practice of naming intense winter weather systems, was holding to its 10- to 15-inch range for the area.
But the NWS meteorologists maintained that a band of moderate to locally heavy snowfall was still in the cards for much of the region, though it was unclear how long it would continue. The best estimates pointed to nearly an inch an hour of snow after sunset, with more to the southeast.
National Weather Service forecasters in Albany, N.Y., reported that the coastal storm, due to merge with a weaker system coming out of the Great Lakes, was off the New Jersey coast and heading northeast, slated to pass east of Cape Cod by early Saturday.
"There is still some question on the exact track of the storm, but it looks certain everyone will get a significant if not crippling snowfall," a NWS update stated.
"The merger of the two storm systems had yet to occur," the forecasters acknowledged. That accounts for the spotty nature of the snowfall so far in the Berkshires.
A snow emergency was set to take effect in Pittsfield at 6 p.m. Friday, continuing until 7 a.m. on Sunday, with the usual parking restrictions in force.
Lenox imposed a snow emergency from 4 p.m. Friday until Saturday at 2 p.m., with no parking allowed on any streets in the town. In Adams, the restrictions continue until 3 p.m. Saturday, while Lanesborough's snow emergency continues until 7 a.m. Sunday.
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