The Outlook: School vacation gets a sunny week

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On the wind in February

Snowflakes float still,

Half inclined to turn to rain,

Nipping, dripping, chill.

— Christina Georgina Rossetti

Eager to bask in sunshine, now that we've gained more than 90 minutes of daylight since the darkest days of December?

This will be a good week for it, especially on the ski slopes, since the forecast calls for mostly clear skies all week with one exception. On Tuesday, we could see some light snow, followed by rain.

But today, George Washington's birthday, should be sunny and seasonable, with a high just over freezing. Then Wednesday through Saturday, more sunshine, though temperatures will be slightly below the normal daytime high of 33 but close to the average overnight low in the midteens.

It's about as tranquil a weather pattern as we ever see at this time of year, following a quick but frigid burst of polar air that gave us our season low of minus 4 on Saturday morning.

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Berkshire residents who recall the really cold winters of years ago might not have been impressed. In 1943, for example, we had a three-day Arctic blast that produced record lows of minus 20, minus 25, and minus 20 on Feb. 14 through 16 of that year.

The long-term outlook for the final week of this month calls for a reprise of the unusually mild weather we've had for much of the winter, and several bursts of rain rather than snow. For the season, the snowfall total at Pittsfield Municipal Airport remains at 34 inches, compared to the normal of 52 inches by mid-February.

It's worth recalling how unpredictable March can be. Just two years ago, we saw a record of 42 inches for the month, while in March 2016, we had only a dusting, followed by nearly 9 inches in April.

Since this is school vacation week, many families flee to warmer settings, but for those of us here, happily or not, it's a time to fight cabin fever by getting out of the house and into the sun and also sampling late-winter arts and entertainment offerings in our performing spaces and museums.

If you're counting the days until spring, AccuWeather.com is out with its long-range forecast, and it's not encouraging for our region.

It appears that the season might be a late arrival, as it often is in New England.

"It looks to me like cold and snow combined could linger this year before we see a break by midspring," AccuWeather's Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok cautioned on Sunday in an online post. That would be late April and early May.

But whether it's a groundhog or a weather scientist looking six weeks into the future, the best advice is to flip a coin, since the actual outcome of these long-range predictions can wait for it turn on a dime.

The Outlook is today's look ahead at the week's weather, its impact on the Berkshires and more. Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.


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