Spring is less than two weeks away, but Old Man Winter isn't rolling over just yet.
A storm that gathering in the Ohio Valley is expected to dump heavy snow on the Berkshires on Wednesday, with 9 inches or more possible by early Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y.
A winter storm watch has been posted for Berkshire County and much of the surrounding region from 7 a.m. Wednesday through 11 a.m. Thursday. Snow-covered roads combined with poor visibility could create potentially dangerous travel conditions, forecasters said.
Heavy snow is predicted on Wednesday, though it may mix with rain or sleet during daylight hours before turning to all snow at night. Snowfall rates of one to two inches an hour are possible from Wednesday afternoon through the late evening.
But AccuWeather.com, a private forecasting service, predicts 4 to 8 inches of snow, with the higher amounts in North Berkshire and lower totals in South Berkshire.
Either way, road crews will be working overtime once again, and school superintendents could face another snow day decision, on top of an above-average total for most of the districts up to now.
The storm is expected to tap into Gulf of Mexico moisture as it makes a midweek journey up the Middle Atlantic and New England coast. It is expected to rapidly deepen off the New Jersey shore at night, before moving off Long Island, N.
Snowfall intensity is likely to be heaviest on Wednesday afternoon following a brief period of rain or sleet, he said. The exact track of the storm will determine final snow totals.
The snow is likely to begin soon after sunrise on Wednesday, accompanied by north winds at 10 to 20 mph, gusting to 35 mph. Temperatures will start in the mid-20s to mid-30s, but are likely to plummet to the teens or single digits late at night.
Although it's a transitional month from winter to spring, heavy March snowfalls are far from rare in the Berkshires -- on average, the county gets 13 inches, according to weather records at Pittsfield Municipal Airport dating back to 1938.
But the sharply below normal temperatures for the month so far are quite unusual. On Thursday night, for example, the low may be barely above zero -- that's 20 to 25 degrees below normal for the tail end of winter.
"The cold will be brutal by mid-March standards," said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Joe Lundberg.
Any relief in sight? Not until March 20, which happens to be the vernal equinox, when highs are expected to reach seasonable levels in the 40s to 50s, with overnight lows in the 30s.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto
Monthly snowfall totals for the 2013-14 season to date:
February: 30.7 inches (fourth-highest since 1938)
January: 10.6 inches
December: 16.6 inches
November: 0.4 inches
Season total to date: 58.2 inches
Season normal to date: 65.4 inches
Source: National Weather Service, AccuWeather.com records at Pittsfield Municipal Airport.
Big chill scoreboard
Monthly temperature averages for the 2013-14 season to date:
March (to date): 10 degrees below normal
February: 4.4 degrees below normal
January: 1.7 degrees below normal
December: 0.3 degrees above normal
Source: National Weather Service data, Pittsfield Municipal Airport.