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After a brief thaw, another arctic blast is on deck for Berkshires, followed by a possible bomb cyclone

Lineman working in cold

A Spectrum lineman repairs a cable junction box Wednesday on Barker Road in Pittsfield. Cold weather can cause some connections to contract, requiring a refitting of the line.

If you thought Tuesday’s polar onslaught was fierce, just wait until a new invasion of arctic air Friday and Saturday. Temperatures and wind chills will be even more brutal.

Then, by Monday, a significant snowfall is possible on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

The second surge of bitterly cold air is expected to arrive before dawn Saturday, combining with high winds to create possibly dangerous conditions, according to the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y.

After the arctic air mass that included wind chills of nearly minus 20 this week, Thursday’s “warmup” might send temperatures above freezing for the first time this week.

But, by midday Friday, the polar push will send temperatures plunging toward an overnight low near minus 5, followed by a high of only 5 to 10 above zero Saturday. Strong northerly winds will add to the misery, with wind chills remaining below zero through the day.

Then, as arctic air remains in place over the Northeast, a winter storm is expected to dump significant snow over the Midwest before trekking toward the Atlantic Ocean.

“The storm’s path is extremely rare in that it will dive well to the south and southeast across the central states before making a sharp turn to the north and northeast along the Eastern Seaboard,” according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

The storm is likely to strengthen rapidly to become what forecasters call a bomb cyclone as it pounds the Northeast on a track just off the New Jersey coast, heading toward Cape Cod.

Major disruptions to travel, shipping, supply chains and COVID-19 testing are anticipated because of areas of rapid snow accumulation and icy conditions inland, along with flooding rain in the New York and Boston metro areas.

The storm has the potential to strand travelers on highways and at airports as people travel during the three-day holiday weekend, AccuWeather.com predicted.

Gusty winds surrounding the storm system might create flood hazards along the Northeast coastline.

At the National Weather Service, “a storm track that passes through our area is very possible,” forecaster Brian Frugis stated in an early evening online post Wednesday.

While all areas will start off as snow Sunday night, he pointed out, a changeover to a wintry mix is possible Monday, before a change back to snow as the storm moves away by early Tuesday.

There also is a potential for very strong winds over western New England on Sunday night, with gusts over 40 mph.

“The combination of heavy snowfall and gusty winds could make for very difficult travel from Sunday night into Monday,” Frugis stated.

But, schools will be closed for the holiday, eliminating the need for a snow day.

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

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