The Outlook: Cold air coming in earlier and colder

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How I wish to fly with the geese away from dreary November days,

the "freeze-up," and cruel winter.

The geese contaminate us with this strange depression on their southbound flight and cure us with their northbound return.

In between, we try to tolerate winter, each in his or her own way."

Anne LaBastille, "Woodswoman"

What a difference the flip of a calendar page makes (if you still hang calendars on the wall).

The transition from a wet, windy but warm October to the chilly, grey gloom of 5 p.m. darkness and temperatures befitting late December was especially abrupt last week — rushing the season, for sure, with the winter solstice still nearly six weeks away.

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If you're lucky enough to have a remote car starter, you'll want to have it handy starting Tuesday morning, when the return to work and school for many of us shapes up as a possibly treacherous ride.

There's lots of head-scratching going on at the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., and at AccuWeather over the track of a storm coming out of the Ohio Valley Monday night, riding along the leading edge of extremely cold polar air.

Exactly how close an approach to the Berkshires the "cyclone" makes, as the professional weatherfolk call it, will make all the difference on Tuesday morning. Government forecaster Christina Speciale predicts a light, spotty rain and snow mix along and north of I-90, with a wedge of cold air carving into North Berkshire likely to drop an inch or two of snow, with sleet, freezing rain and just plain rain in South County while Pittsfield and central Berkshire are caught in the middle with an icy brew, likely including freezing rain and sleet.

A winter weather advisory might be issued, meaning you'll get where you're going, but extreme caution on the roads and sidewalks is required. Temperatures will plunge later on Tuesday, so look out for freeze-ups and ice on some roadways.

With an early morning low around 10 expected both Wednesday and Thursday, records for the date at Pittsfield Municipal Airport (12 on Nov. 12, 1986 and 10 on Nov. 13, 1996) could easily be shattered. The normal low for these dates is 29 with a high of 48. Thus, Wednesday's expected daytime maximum of only 23 isn't even worthy of the word "high."

Beyond mid-week, it looks dry through next weekend but still colder than average before we return to temps closer to normal during the third week of November, which is nothing to cheer about but at least par for the course.

Actually, we can imagine some cheering at our local ski areas and among skiing fans — the slopes should be well-covered, at least with human-made snow, well in time for the long Thanksgiving break at the end of the month.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter@ BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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