PITTSFIELD -- Five-year-old Maddie Harrington embraced the season's first major snowfall by hitting the slopes Sunday afternoon.

The Pittsfield youngster and her family enjoyed the ideal conditions at Bousquet Ski Area thanks to seven inches of natural snow that fell on the mountain during the weekend winter storm.

"It goes fast," she said of her three runs down the well-covered trails.

Fresh powder to start the ski season was a thing of beauty heading into the holidays, according to Bousquet General Manager Sherry Roberts.

"It was perfect timing," Roberts noted. "[The snow] inspires people to get into skiing a week before Christmas."

While the storm's arrival proved beneficial for both winter enthusiasts and motorists, timing may be more of an issue for the next round of snow expected for Tuesday.

The 6 to 12 inches that blanketed the Berkshires -- mixed with some sleet in South County -- fell from late Saturday afternoon until daybreak on Sunday. An overnight storm coupled with plenty of advanced warning, kept motor vehicle accidents to a minimum, said local and state police.

"Being a weekend, Sunday morning, there was no rush hour to deal with," said Pittsfield police Sgt. Mark Trapani.

"We had two minor accidents; thankfully no injuries," added Williamstown police Sgt. Scott McGowan.

By midday, the majority of roads had been plowed, salted and sanded, allowing for the holiday shopping to resume and kick-start the local ski season before the traditionally busy Christmas week for the area slopes.

"We're two weeks ahead of last year, making our [Bousquet] ski pass-holders happy," said Roberts.

Perfect timing for Tom Sharpe's daughters, Solana, 5, and Tasman, 3, to have their first ski outing.

"They loved it," said the Stockbridge resident. "It's a great place for kids to learn [to ski]."

At Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, Director of Marketing Matt Sawyer noted the entire mountain was open thanks to several days of snowmaking followed by the weekend snowfall.

"There were no lift lines, but a constant flow of skiers," he said.

Old Man Winter's next shot of snow is expected Tuesday, part of a week-long active weather pattern in the Northeast, according to the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Villani says a pair of disturbances moving in from the Great Lakes are expected to spawn another coastal storm that would produce bursts of snow over a longer period of time. The anticipated all day and night weather event will likely create slippery driving conditions, especially during the Tuesday afternoon commute.

"We're looking at 2-4 inches, but we could see a little bit more if the low pressure system strengthens more than we expect off the Southern New England coast," he said.

By Friday, forecasters foresee another storm that could bring a wintery mix of snow and ice as daytime temperatures rise above freezing, followed immediately by another cold snap for the weekend.

"It's early in the week, so that long-range forecast is subject to change," Villani noted.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.