A potent coastal storm is expected to sock the Berkshires and much of the Northeast with a moderate to heavy snowfall, starting Saturday morning and ending around midday Sunday.

The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., issued a winter storm warning late Friday, and forecasters predict 6 to 12 inches during the warning period from 8 a.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday.

The impact of what forecasters call a "complex storm" will start to be felt on Saturday morning with light snow spreading into the region, becoming steady and heavy Saturday night into Sunday morning before tapering off by noon on Sunday.

Snow may fall at a rate of one inch per hour after dark Saturday until dawn on Sunday, with dangerous travel conditions due to snow-covered roads and low visibility.

Northeast winds gusting to 30 miles an hour will only make matters worse, the forecasters pointed out. Temperatures will be downright frigid -- in the single numbers and teens during the storm, topping out only in the low 20s on Sunday.

With many pre-Christmas public events scheduled over the weekend, postponements and cancellations may be widespread. Anyone planning to attend is urged to check with organizers before venturing out in the storm.

Tom Wasula, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said the two-phase storm will originate first from the Midwest and Ohio Valley. The dry, fluffy snowfall could yield 2 to 4 inches by nightfall Saturday, he stated.


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The major impact is due Saturday night into Sunday morning, as a stronger storm from the Deep South spreads heavy snow into the region, along with high winds.

Computer models show the storm "wobbling" just south of Long Island, N.Y., as it heads toward Cape Cod. By the time the snowfall ends around midday Sunday, as much as a foot may be on the ground in the Berkshires.

At AccuWeather.com, senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski warned that the snowstorm will affect an estimated 110 million Americans from the Midwest to New England.

Widespread flight delays and cancellations are anticipated, he said.

Snow will fall on and impact every major city and rural area from St. Louis to Boston, including Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City, according to Sosnowski.

To contact Clarence Fanto:

cfanto@yahoo.com or (413) 637-2551.

On Twitter: @BE_cfanto