Messy but manageable: Berkshires handle first snow of season with ease
Photo Gallery | First snowfall of the season
PITTSFIELD — The first winter "storm" of the season was messy but manageable for motorists and highway crews, as snowfall totals in the Berkshires were below that of National Weather Service forecasts.
The NWS prediction of 4 to 6 inches for the Berkshires north of the Massachusetts Turnpike fell short. From 1 to 2 inches of snow and sleet fell in that area overnight Monday through midday on Tuesday, according to the storm report complied by the NWS office in Albany, N.Y.
Across the border in Southern Vermont, some locations in Bennington County received 2 to 4 inches of snow.
The minimal accumulation in the Berkshires was due to the storm over the upper Great Lakes weakening as it moved east and a sister system it spawned off the New Jersey coast failing to gain significant strength, according to NWS meteorologist Warren Snyder.
Snowfall shortly after midnight quickly changed to sleet while temperatures remained in the low- to mid-20s until several hours after daybreak. By early afternoon on Tuesday, only occasional drizzle was reported countywide and readings hovered just above freezing.
Nevertheless, the Tuesday morning commute was slippery on many secondary and side roads, as most local and state highway crews were still plowing, salting and sanding roadways throughout the county.
"It definitely would have been a school closing day because it was so icy," said Great Barrington Public Works Superintendent Joe Sokul.
Sokul noted that it being Christmas break for area schools helped plow crews navigate the lighter-than-usual weekday traffic.
From a law enforcement point of view, frozen precipitation coating the roads contributed to only a handful of minor accidents, local and state police reported.
Adams Police Sgt. Matt Wright credited local highway crews for keeping the roads safe as officers responded to only one accident in town, with no injuries, during the storm.
"Our DPW did a really good job of getting the streets treated early," Wright said.
For skiers and snowboarders seeking more snow, they will have to wait until next year.
Forecasters foresee no significant winter storms over the next seven days, although temperatures will be closer to seasonable averages — including dry, comfortable weather for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Daytime highs Thursday and Friday in the mid to upper 30s with New Year's Eve revellers on Thursday night enjoying lows in the upper 20s.
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