Northeast digs out and prepares for bone-chilling cold

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There was fair warning that the weather would turn foul.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or advisories for part or all of at least 15 states from Missouri to Maine ahead of the weekend storm. And things surely did take a turn to the worse as a wave of snow that later mixed with sleet and freezing rain swept into the Berkshires on Saturday night and was still making snow late into Sunday afternoon.

It was the first significant snow episode to hit the Berkshires this winter.

According to Joe Cebulko, a meteorologist in the Albany office of the National Weather Service, up to 12 inches of snow landed in the Northern Berkshires. In south county, where there was more freezing rain and sleet, the snow total was about 8 inches.

"The freezing rain and sleet kept the snow totals down in the south county region," Cebulko said.

Police around the county reported few incidents related to the weather, as it seems most folks stayed indoors for the day. National Grid was showing no power outages in their Berkshire County coverage area.

Going forward, Cebulko added, the concern is now on the falling temperatures.

A dangerously cold air mass moved into the region Sunday night and promises painfully frigid temperatures Monday night between zero and minus 10 degrees. And with wind gusts of up to 40 mph, the wind chill will dip to between minus 20 and minus 30 degrees.

"The cold is the main story, now that the snow is starting to end," Cebulko said.

On Tuesday, he noted, there will not be any precipitation and the temperatures will rise into the upper teens with little wind expected. Frigid temperatures are expected to return that evening.

Nationally, the storm blanketed a wide swath of the country in snow, wreaked havoc on air travel and caused icy conditions throughout New England on Sunday.

More than 1,500 flights were canceled nationwide, with Boston's Logan Airport among the hardest hit, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company. Amtrak canceled trains across the Midwest and Northeast over the weekend, but said full service would resume Monday.

Typically bustling security lines, ticketing counters and baggage claims were largely deserted Sunday morning at Logan Airport, but some stranded passengers lingered.

Xavi Ortega, a 32-year old engineer from Spain, slept overnight at the airport with his wife after their 10:30 p.m. flight to Barcelona on Saturday was canceled. He said the couple won't be able to get onto another flight until Sunday night.

"We've been sleeping, playing Candy Crush," Ortega said.

Manhattan saw mostly rain and cities along Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts' coast recorded 2 to 5 inches of snow.

Mountain regions saw significantly more, with the Adirondacks in upstate New York registering up to 20 inches, while parts of northern New England were on track to see up to two feet of snow.

Wind chills were expected to hit in the teens in the New York City area, 25 below in Albany and down to 40 below in the Adirondacks.

In New England, they're expected to fall to as low as 20 below zero around Boston, and as low as 35 below zero in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.

Officials warned people to limit their time outside to prevent frostbite and avoid treacherous travel conditions. They also said places would see strong wind gusts, flooding and power outages.

The powerful, wide-ranging storm was caused by the clash of an Arctic high-pressure system with a low-pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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