Berkshire County begins to clear snow


PITTSFIELD - Berkshire residents woke up Saturday morning to snow that was nearly 2 feet high in some portions of the county as a result of the winter storm that shut down roads and forced businesses to close.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Albany, 8.2 inches of snow was reported at Pittsfield Municipal Airport and as much as 10 inches in other parts of the city.

Eleven inches was reported in Lanesborough and Great Barrington, and 12.1 inches was reported in Lenox, according to the NWS.

According to the NWS, North Otis and Alford had the heaviest snowfall reported in the Berkshires - 22 inches and 20 inches, respectively.

An overnight glitch in Albany's radar system made it more challenging for the meteorologists to calculate the snowfalls, Meteorologist Brian Montgomery said. The cause for the glitch was not immediately known.

Gov. Deval Patrick declared a State of Emergency at noon on Friday. He also implemented a driving ban Friday at 4 p.m., and announced it would be partially lifted Saturday at around 1 p.m. It expired at 4 p.m. Saturday. Certain public workers were exempt from the ban, but violating it could have resulted in a fine or jail time.

In Pittsfield, there were no arrests or citations made to people driving against the ban because "most people were adhering to it," according Lt. Michael Winston

"The chief instruction was to not stop anybody because of that," he said. "If they happened to stop somebody for something else, they would have notified them of the driving ban."

Conversely, Kristen O'Brien, the co-owner of Gary J. O'Brien Property Services in Otis, remembers there being "a lot of cars on the road," which made it difficult for snow-plow drivers to make the roads smooth and safe to drive again.

She said that O'Brien Property services started doing preliminary work - salting and sanding the roads -in advance of the storm Friday morning, then started plowing the roads around 2 p.m. The plowing continued all day Saturday and will continue again today.

"The visibility was a lot harder, and when the snow accumulates that much, it's very heavy," O'Brien said. "Blindfold Mountain was the worst. It's pretty steep."

The snowy roads and driving ban forced virtually all businesses in the Berkshires to close early on Friday. The Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough closed at 3:15 p.m. Friday, and remained closed all day Saturday, despite initial plans to open at 1 p.m., according to the Berkshire Mall Facebook page. The adjoining Target department store, however, was open.

Jessica Lamb, the owner of Dottie's Coffee Lounge on North Street, was surprised the dining area of her business was as full as it was at around noon Saturday. Still, she said she was serving about 60 percent fewer customers than on a non-snowy Saturday afternoon.

"There's more people here than anticipated," Lamb said of the 14 people in the coffee shop at noon Saturday. "The sidewalks have been really well-maintained, so that's really promoting getting out and doing something."

Despite roadways being cleared, the mounds of fresh-powdered snow may not be subsiding significantly until later this week when temperatures climb during the day, but then drop below-freezing again at night.

"It's going to be around for a couple of days," Meteorologist Ian Lee said on Friday.

To reach Adam Poulisse:, or (413) 496-6214. On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse


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