Snow storm hits Berkshires, most severe to the east


Berkshire County apparently escaped the worst impact of a winter storm that brought blizzard conditions to portions of coastal Massachusetts on Thursday night.

Although snowfall grew heavier countywide late Thursday afternoon, especially south of Pittsfield, forecasters scaled back their predicted total accumulation, with pinpointing a storm total averaging about 9 inches across the Berkshires.

Winter storm warnings led to widespread school closings on Thursday, including BCC, MCLA, public school districts and several private schools. Pittsfield, Lenox and other towns imposed snow emergencies, restricting parking so plows could clear the streets.

Pittsfield schools and others in the county also will be closed today.

Slick roads caused a serious crash around 11:44 a.m. on Route 7 in Williamstown near Mezze's Bistro and Bar. Police said the driver and two passengers of a 1996 Honda Civic were all transported to Berkshire Medical Center with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries after their car slid sideways into a utility pole, cracking it.

Emergency crews had to free occupants of the vehicle using a Jaws of Life tool. The road in that area was closed for about an hour to through traffic.

Pittsfield Police reported several minor vehicle mishaps Thursday but no injuries.

State police in Cheshire said a tractor-trailer was stuck for a time across the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) just east of the Hairpin Turn, and another tractor-trailer was reported stuck across Route 116 in Savoy on Thursday night, but it was expected to be moved soon.

The Berkshire County dispatch center reported some stuck vehicles and minor fender-bender accidents with no injuries.

No information was available Thursday evening on a reported accident in Readsboro, Vt.

By late afternoon, snowfall totals averaged around 4 inches around the area, with higher amounts in the hilltowns. Savoy posted 5.2 inches of snow by evening.

Snow was expected to end this morning, with a range of 8 to 10 inches in the area, according to National Weather Service forecaster Vasil Koleci in Albany, N.Y.

Eastern Massachusetts and the rest of coastal New England suffered a more direct hit from the storm moving up the Eastern Seaboard from the Carolinas toward the Canadian Maritimes.

Koleci said Thursday night that a few bands of light snow were expected over the next few hours and then very light snowfall overnight into this morning.

The biggest concern, he said, was frigid cold that will keep the high today around 3 degrees and push the low tonight into Saturday to around minus 12 in the Pittsfield area and minus 18 in North County.

Wind chills, he said, could make the air feel like minus 22 to 25 degrees.

Sunday is expected to bring relatively balmy temperatures in the mid-30s.

In New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency and closed the New York Thruway from the Capital District to the Bronx between midnight and 5 a.m. today.

Speed limits on the MassPike were reduced to 40 miles an hour from the New York state line to Boston. State police reported multiple crashes on the turnpike and other interstates in central and eastern portions of the state.

Gov. Deval Patrick activated up to 400 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to help first responders in coastal regions.

Blizzard conditions developed in eastern Plymouth County and on areas of Cape Cod, creating the potential for flooding on eastern-facing coastal communities because storm-driven tides will be higher than normal.

Most flights were delayed or canceled at the Albany, Hartford, Boston and New York metro area airports. Logan Airport in Boston was especially hard hit, with travel at a standstill on Thursday night. Normal operations were unlikely to resume until midday today.

In the Berkshires, the coldest air since January 2009 was poised to sweep into the region on Friday. Dangerous wind chills were predicted, with gusts from the northwest up to 25 miles per hour.

Before dawn on Saturday, low temperatures could shatter the 75-year record for the date at Pittsfield Municipal Airport -- minus 12 in 1981. But winds will die down and readings will recover into the mid-20s later in the day.

A wintry mix of snow, rain, sleet and freezing rain is likely Sunday afternoon into Monday, government forecasters stated, followed by another deep freeze.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 637-2551.


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