Berkshires escape icy grip; warmer, rainy weather thaws county

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Old Man Winter is finally releasing the Berkshires from his icy grip, which left behind a holiday weekend of record-breaking, sub-zero cold and dozens of area home and businesses with frozen or busted water pipes.

On Monday, Presidents Day, Pittsfield was the epicenter for weather-related indoor plumbing issues as the city's fire department reported handling more than 20 calls for various water problems, as air temperatures barely reached 20 degrees during the daylight hours.

"A lot of frozen sprinkler pipers, mainly in commercial buildings," said Deputy Fire Chief Mark Cancilla. "Once we were able to shut of the water, we had things under control."

Police and fire officials on Sunday reported several incidences of frozen/broken water lines in Williamstown, North Adams and Pittsfield, after early morning lows plunged between minus 15 and minus 20 throughout the county.

The extreme cold of the past two days was also blamed for triggering unnecessary fire alarms in Pittsfield and Great Barrington, the later on Sunday.

While snow, sleet and freezing rain were expected to blanket the region Monday night into the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, the storm system was also dragging in warmer air that would change the mixed precipitation to all rain during the daytime on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y., predicted high temperatures flirting with the 50 degree mark — a 30 to 40 degree swing from the holiday weekend. In addition, steady, heavy rainfall was expected for Tuesday's afternoon commute, before the entire storm system pulls away and temperatures moderate and fall back into the 30s on Wednesday.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.


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