On Friday, one of the year's busiest travel days ahead of Christmas and New Year's, Berkshire motorists are likely to encounter a dicey, potentially treacherous brew of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
"While a blockbuster storm is not expected, enough snow and ice will occur to create a real mess for early holiday travelers, last-minute shoppers and those still at work or school," according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. The American Automobile Association has estimated that a record 107 million people will travel nationwide by car, bus, train and plane from this Saturday through Jan. 1.
The National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., has posted a hazardous weather advisory for the first full day of the winter season, warning of slippery roads and difficult travel, especially north of the Massachusetts Turnpike and in Southern Vermont.
The advisory, beginning in the wee hours of Friday morning and extending until 10 a.m. Saturday, calls for 2 to 4 inches of snow in Central and North Berkshire, 1 to 2 inches in South County, along with sleet and freezing rain, and up to 8 inches in the high-terrain ski country of Vermont and upstate New York.
Snow is likely through Friday afternoon, followed by freezing rain or sleet at night and through Saturday morning. Rising temperatures should cause a changeover to rain later on Saturday.
While the amount of snow shapes up as light to moderate, ice is expected to cause difficult travel conditions from Friday morning until midday Saturday, the government forecasters cautioned. Similar conditions are expected in New York's Capital District and in Hampshire and Franklin counties to the east of the Berkshires.
For travelers heading into Boston, a light snowfall is expected on Friday followed by a mix of snow, freezing rain at night and then rain all day and into the evening on Saturday. Motorists bound for the New York metro area can expect rain, without any ice.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, a potentially heavier snowstorm is possible in much of New England, depending on the track of a possible coastal storm, followed by a wintry big chill next week with below-normal temperatures and strong winds.
Clarence Fanto can be reached at email@example.com or 413-637-2551.