'The first of December was covered with snow'
December came in like a lion in Berkshire County, with a strong snowstorm gaining momentum through the evening Sunday, causing delays and making travel treacherous.
From Stockbridge to Boston, school administrators began playing their seasonal game of chicken with Mother Nature: to close school or stay open on an early December day that was sure to be covered with lots of snow.
As of Sunday evening, a growing number of local K-12 schools had declared snow days, including Pittsfield Public Schools, Central Berkshire Regional School District and Mount Greylock Regional School District.
The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams made one of the earliest calls on Saturday afternoon, to cancel Monday's day and evening classes.
A winter storm warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect until 7 a.m. on Tuesday, with an advisory that "travel could be very difficult to impossible" as the weather's effects intensify.
The State Police and Department of Transportation issued their respective advisories on Sunday afternoon about the reduced speed of 40 mph on the Massachusetts turnpike as storm crews kept busy treating the ramps and roads. Even so, patrols were kept busy responding to spinouts and traffic accidents. Because of this, some members of the Lee barracks were dispatched to the Mass Pike to help with patrols.
Members manning the Great Barrington Fire Department's Facebook page released this gem of a travel advisory of their own: "We can expect rapid deterioration of roads, and as our fathers would say a rapid increase of Yahoos on the roads. For those that don't know what a Yahoo is, it is a person who drives faster than they should, expect their car to react as if it was sunny and 70, and typically end up in a ditch, off the road, into another car, or at minimum have soiled underwear because they had a near miss. Being a yahoo is preventable and curable. don't be a yahoo."
Don't be a yahoo, indeed. Drive safely.
The Great Barrington Fire Department also issued additional sage storm advice. To paraphrase: Keep areas around fire hydrants clear of snow. Heed street parking bans. Do your homework in case school isn't canceled.
When shoveling snow, they say to mind your back and lift with your legs. "Take frequent breaks and call 911 if you begin to feel a tightness in your chest," the firefighters advised.
They also said to push snow to the side of your driveway and not into the road, as that creates a dangerous hazard for traffic and pedestrians. The folks in blue at the Adams Police Department via their Facebook page said that, in addition to stocking up on bread, milk and hot cocoa, residents should consider charging electronic devices early in case of a power outage. In terms of electric heaters though, they warn against running the cord beneath rugs and keeping the heater away from items that may create a fire hazard.
Most other Berkshire communities dispensed similar storm readiness advice and issued their own snow emergencies and parking bans for snowplowing sake. Authorities also urged neighbors to help check in on each other and help to keep sidewalks clear after the storm.
Jenn Smith can be reached at email@example.com, at @JennSmith_Ink on Twitter and 413-496-6239.
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