Near-record lows sweep through the Berkshire region


Near-record temperatures locked the Berkshires in an icy full nelson Saturday night and Sunday morning, but caused only a few problems countywide.

The most serious involved two male hikers from the Northampton area who scaled Mount Greylock Saturday night, only to find it too cold to hike down.

At 2:45 a.m., the Berkshire County Sheriff's Dept. got a 911 call from them, which they passed on to state and local police.

The two were found in an unheated storage hut atop the mountain, which may have saved them from the worst of the weather.

"They were incredibly ill-prepared," noted North Adams Police Dept. Sgt. James Burdick.

The men were finally brought down the mountain by 8 p.m., according to state police. Their names were not available, but state police said they were unharmed.

Burdick said the Department of Conservation and Recreation used a Snowcat vehicle from the Clarksburg State Forest garage to rescue the two men. The vehicle has a heated cab.

For much of Saturday night and Sunday morning, temperatures were well south of zero throughout Berkshire County, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather got coldest in the early morning hours of Sunday, with temperatures, which were estimated on Friday to be in the minus-5 to minus-10 degree range, dropping far below that.

The towns of Adams and Windsor recorded lows of minus 21, with Otis and Great Barrington reporting minus 15 and Egremont minus 16.

Pittsfield Municipal Airport recorded a temperature of minus 19. The record for the coldest Feb. 14 ever was minus 20 in 1943.

This being the Berkshires, temperatures are expected to vault above freezing by Tuesday.

But there will be precipitation — light snow is expected Monday night, with anywhere from one to three inches forecast. As the weather warms, according to the NWS, the snow will turn over to sleet and freezing rain turning to just rain into Tuesday morning. Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-40s on Tuesday.

Also in North Adams, police reported water lines on the Williamstown-North Adams town lines were frozen Sunday morning, while several private residences also had frozen pipe issues.

Burdick said the fire department or DPW workers were called out about 10 times total on Saturday night and Sunday morning.

"They've been fairly busy for a few hours," he said.

The Cumberland Farms on Curran Highway was closed briefly when the heating system malfunctioned because of the cold — it reopened by early afternoon, said Burdick.

In Pittsfield, the Stop and Shop on Dan Fox Drive was closed briefly to clean up after pipes burst in the store.

Tenants in the apartments at Rose Manor on Elberon Drive were without heat for several hours. A woman for the Pittsfield Housing Authority's answering service did not have details, but said calls have been coming in regularly for several hours. The PHAs maintenance crews, she said, "have been out."

The facility has 152 elderly apartments.

In Great Barrington, the bitter cold set off several fire alarms, but there were no issues with frozen pipes.

"Some of the buildings are so old, that when it gets this cold, the foundations shift slightly, and some the alarms are sensitive enough to pick that up," said Great Barrington police officer James Bragdon. "We had several alarms, but no problem."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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