The trip home from school and work could be treacherous on Thursday, with another winter storm expected to dump a significant snowfall on the Berkshires and surrounding area.

A winter weather watch has been posted for the Berkshires and surrounding area beginning Thursday, with computer models now lining up in agreement on the potential for 7 inches of snow or more for the region.

"The Berkshires are in the bullseye for heavy snow," said Kevin Lipton, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y.

Lipton said despite some lingering discrepancies, the computer runs used by the government forecasters are better aligned for a significant storm.

By Wednesday morning, he noted, an official winter weather warning should be hoisted for all of western New England and eastern New York.

In addition to heavier, wetter snow than last Wednesday's 9-inch accumulation, high winds with gusts up to 25 miles an hour may pose additional hazards for travelers, Lipton said.

The timing of the storm's arrival is shaping up as mid- to late-morning on Thursday.

"It should be snowing pretty solidly through early Friday morning, tapering off just before the morning rush," Lipton said.

The storm is expected to be at its peak around the time of the Thursday afternoon commute.

School superintendents, already facing an excess of snow days, face a tough call on whether to close on Thursday or Friday, or perhaps both.


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The storm taking shape in Texas and the Gulf Coast region on Tuesday is expected to track up the Eastern Seaboard, hugging the coast closely and taking its time, in contrast to last Wednesday's fairly quick hit.

A silver lining heading into next week -- more seasonable temperatures and relief from the biting cold -- will have a downside, Lipton predicted, because of additional snow threats, though details remain hazy at this point.

Before the storm reaches the Northeast, it was pummeling the Southeast, with heavy ice accumulation expected in the Atlanta metro area into the Carolinas, according to AccuWeather.com. The private forecasting service is targeting the Berkshires for at least a foot of snow from that storm system.

By Wednesday, air travel in and out of Boston's Logan and New York's three major terminals may be on the verge of shutting down, forecasters predicted -- as well as at Albany International and at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., between Hartford and Springfield.

So far this winter, 40.1 inches of snow have been measured at the National Weather Service station at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, compared to a season-to-date average of 46 inches. For the full season, November through May, the long-term snowfall total averages 76.5 inches at the airport.

But the persistent onslaught of cold spells, relieved only by occasional thaws, is reflected in the record books, with temperatures running 3 degrees below normal, on average, since Dec. 1, a significant departure from the averages dating back to 1938.

February has been especially brutal so far, with no relief from the cold since Feb. 3 and daytime highs running well below freezing. as recorded at the airport.

To contact Clarence Fanto:

cfanto@yahoo.com

or (413) 637-2551.

On Twitter: @BE_cfanto