After early dusting, nor'easter descends, picks up steam across Berkshires
The second nor'easter to strike Berkshire County in less than a week picked up steam Wednesday afternoon, causing many commuters to slip off roads during their evening commute.
Adams police Sgt. Scott McWhirt described road conditions as "horrible."
"The roads are bad," he said. "Some tractor-trailer units have gotten stuck on hills."
By 5:30 p.m., there were no serious collisions in town, but a few cars had gone off roads and into snowbanks, causing traffic delays and safety concerns, he said.
Despite poor driving conditions, people were still on the roads, according to McWhirt.
"Looking out at the cameras here, (toward) Park Street, I'm seeing pretty steady traffic," McWhirt said.
By 6 p.m., snow had picked up significantly from the powder that fell earlier in the day, with snowfall at 1 to 3 inches an hour, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Villani.
Residents of Savoy, Lenox and New Marlborough had seen about 6 to 8 inches of snow by then, he said.
"We do have some really heavy snow all across Berkshire County, especially the northern half right now," Villani said, just after 6 p.m. "I'm sure the roads have to be pretty awful."
Villani expected the heaviest snow to continue to fall until about 10 p.m., before it transitioned to an intermittent, light snowfall.
Totals across the county likely will range from 1 foot to 16 inches, he said.
As of 7:30 p.m., with moderate to heavy snow falling, the National Weather Service and AccuWeather.com reported 8 inches of snow at Pittsfield Municipal Airport.
Visibility was expected to drop to near zero within heavy snow bands, according to the National Weather Service.
"We had winter storm warnings out," Villani said. "It shouldn't have come as a surprise."
Despite those warnings, Berkshire County residents and workers, resigned to their fate, trudged through Pittsfield on Wednesday morning, though the heavy snow began to fall after noon.
A steady stream of customers could be found at Zenner's Package & Variety at Tyler and Pine streets.
"It's been crazy this morning," said Ryan Powers, who has worked in the store on and off for 20 years. "I think people are just coming out and getting what they need, milk and stuff."
Steve Fillio, a contractor and snowplow driver, summed up his thoughts on the storm in three words: "No more snow."
As he left Zenner's, he still had driveways to plow as of about 10 a.m.
But with the weather, his contracting work had to wait. He missed work the previous storm.
"And the other. And another storm," he said. "It's got to stop snowing."
"I'm at a point where I never even believe the storm's going to happen," said Jessica Rufo, owner of Dottie's Coffee Lounge. "I'm kind of the opposite of an alarmist."
Rufo planned to spend the morning preparing for a baking job. Next week, she'll start prepping in earnest for the opening of her bakery at Tyler and Pine.
Across the street, at V's Laundromat, it was business as usual.
Dan Irish and Keith Ryan were fixing a broken washing machine as the snow picked up about 10:30 a.m.
"I don't listen to the news ... they don't know what they're talking about," Irish said of weather reports.
One station said 6 to 10 inches, while another predicted much more.
"I know one thing — we're gonna get a bunch," Ryan said.
Ryan said he was concerned about the intensity of the storm in the afternoon because he also services machines in North County.
"The higher elevations — I'm going to be watching very carefully," he said. "I don't want to push it."
But it's not that bad, he said.
"Compared to what we've had all winter, we really can't complain here," he said. "We're not out of this until what, April?"
By the late afternoon, many stores on North Street had closed for the day and cars could be seen sliding off roads, struggling to stop at intersections.
Republic Services, which handles trash and recycling pickup for Pittsfield, will resume its services Thursday. All pickup will be delayed by one day until Saturday.
Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at email@example.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977. Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BE_pleboeuf on Twitter and 413-496-6247.
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