Special to The Eagle
A winter storm that threatens blizzard conditions to portions of coastal New England is also expected to dump a foot of snow, more or less, on Berkshire County, according to a consensus of forecasters on Thursday morning.
Storm warnings led to the cancellation of classes for students in the county, including BCC, MCLA, all public school districts and several private schools, including Pine Cobble in Williamstown. The Christmas-vacation extension may well include Friday, if forecasts hold up.
By mid-morning on Thursday, two to three inches of snow were reported in the Berkshires, and temperatures hovering in the mid-teens made for slick travel conditions.
But the brunt of the storm was expected to hit the region after sunset on Thursday before easing off on Friday morning.
At the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., an updated winter storm warning was reissued through 10 a.m. Friday, calling for heavy snow, high winds and temperatures falling toward zero and below.
Predicted snow accumulations range from 6 to 12 inches, with up to 15 inches in the northern Berkshires. Friday night's low temperatures countywide are likely to bottom out at 10 to 15 below zero.
The government forecasters' warning cited snow-covered roads and low visibility causing dangerous travel, with wind chill temperatures between 10 below and 25 below zero, creating a risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
After on-and-off light snowfall throughout Thursday, a new storm forming off the Virginia Coast and tracking northeast offshore is expected to produce steady and heavier snow before it tapers off around sunrise on Friday.
North to northeast winds gusting to 25 miles an hour will lead to blowing and drifting snow, according to NWS forecaster Brian Frugis.
By Friday night, he warned, "it will be brutally cold across the whole area, and precautions will need to be taken to prevent damage to homes, businesses and livestock."
On Thursday night, the storm's worst impact will be in the Boston area and nearby coastal regions, including the Cape and islands, AccuWeather.com reported.
Blizzard conditions from New York City and Long Island to Boston, with wind gusts as high as 50 miles an hour are likely, with snowfall rates of two inches per hour in some spots, said AccuWeather's senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Extensive flight delays and cancellations already were developing on Thursday morning at airports in Albany, Hartford, Boston and New York City.
Over the next several days, the deep freeze is expected to cause the lowest temperatures in western New England since January 2009.
After temperatures moderate to near-seasonable levels over the weekend, another storm system is expected to create a mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain to the Berkshires on Sunday night into Monday, followed by another big chill next Tuesday and Wednesday.
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