Dangerous wind chill blows through the Berkshires


Dangerous wind chills of at least minus 20 will grip the Berkshires through Wednesday, thanks to the region's second arctic air-mass invasion since New Year's Day.

The National Weather Service Office in Albany, N.Y. has issued a wind chill advisory effective through late Wednesday morning as the single-digit temperatures will feel much colder due to west winds of 25 mph, gusting between 35-45 mph this afternoon, according to NWS meteorologist Tom Wasula.

"The wind chill will be persistently in the 15-20 below range and could be occasionally lower than that," Wasula said Monday night.

To avoid frostbite or hypothermia due to the extreme cold, he urges everyone wear gloves, a hat or hood over the ears and several layers of clothing when venturing outside.

"As you get beyond 20-30 below wind chill, it can be a matter of minutes before frostbite sets in," he cautioned.

Heath experts say children and senior citizens are most susceptible to the cold. Check on elderly neighbors to ensure they are warm and comfortable.

As for pets, keep cats and dogs indoors during the cold snap. Allow them outside for brief bathroom breaks and supervised exercise.

The latest blast of arctic air moved into the upper Midwest on Sunday and by today was expected to reach the East Coast and as far south as northern Alabama and Georgia with record breaking temperatures and an unheard of minus 10 wind chill in Atlanta.

While last week's deep freeze in the Berkshires followed a 5- to 10-inch snowstorm, the current big chill comes on the heels of a one-day warm-up. Monday's daytime highs peaked in the low 50s in some parts of the county, before dropping into the upper 20s by nightfall.

The brief January thaw, coupled with about an inch of rain from a storm system that stayed well to the north, melted the snow cover resulting in some minor street flooding, especially in Pittsfield.

City Commissioner of Public Utilities Bruce Collingwood said Monday afternoon that frozen or plugged storm drains in some areas caused snowmelt to pool or run across road surfaces.

City workers pumped water around one drain to a downstream storm drain on Marshall Avenue near Herberg School, he said, and dealt with other similar issues in that section and on Eleanor Road off West Street.

"I think we are now in pretty good shape," he said, adding, "We'll have a couple of people on overnight [Monday] to deal with black ice and other issues."

The bone-chilling cold won't last long, as temperatures begin to warm up again to near normal by Friday and back into the 40s for the weekend with a slight chance of rain and/or snow.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233


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