A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. -- Susan Orlean

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Winter Storm Warning Announced

Because of the bust of a storm this past Tuesday, we understand if you are slightly skeptical about our latest storm, but the reality is that weather experts now confidently feel that the storm will take a more northerly track and dump 8-16 inches on the Berkshires. As a result, the NWS has upgraded our Watch to a Warning. As always, this is a very positive sign for a snow day.

The Warning period is from 9 PM Sunday to 6 PM Monday, which means that the snow should start falling around 11 PM. Perhaps the snow will coincide perfectly with the confetti that will fall as the Patriots hoist the Lombardi trophy? (Check that--University of Phoenix is an outdoor stadium; do they do confetti at outdoor stadia?)

Courtesy of Accuweather.
One of the big reasons for the high snow total prediction is the ridiculously high snow-to-liquid ratio for this storm (20:1). Even if this storm delivers the low end snow total, we should be in good shape for countywide snow days on Monday. It's pretty easy to get used to these four day weeks.

We still are on track for the first ever snow day/freeze delay double. Let's make this happen!

Winter Storm Watch for Sunday Night & Monday Storm

The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the Berkshires. The Watch period begins at 10 PM Sunday and ends at 6 PM Monday. As far as timing goes--one of the key criterion the staff looks at when we forecast a snow day--we're in a much better place today than we were yesterday.

Here's a great map of predicted snow totals (by midnight on Monday):


This map suggests that a snowfall of 8-10 inches is on the way for Monday, which is more than enough to cancel school. The Monday after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday anyway; perhaps we'll get to know what that really feels like.

Two things for you to do today: 1) vote for this storm's name; 2) cover your face when you go outside.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The 1-2 Punch

It's late January, it's snowing and it's going to get really cold. Winter the way it used to be!

We have a couple of weather situations we need to make sure everyone's aware of. First is the bitterly cold temps we're expected to see Saturday morning and Tuesday morning. The NWS has posted a Wind Chill Advisory for Berkshire County that lasts through 11 AM Saturday. We'll see the temperature drop to -2 or -3 overnight with winds increasing. Temps will warm all the way up to 12 degrees during the day on Saturday before climbing to a balmy 18 on Sunday. Once the snow comes through on Monday, we'll see the mercury plummet on Tuesday morning with lows of -13 to -16 degrees. Ouch.

The meat in between our subzero temperature sandwich is a coastal storm for Monday. This storm was on, then it was off, and now it's back on. It looks like the low pressure racing due east across the country will hit the mid-Atlantic coast, re-energize, and then move up the coast to the Gulf of Maine during the day on Monday. These types of storms are often not as potent as typical nor-easters (which come out of the Gulf of Mexico), but they still can pack a wintery punch.

We're not sure if this storm will need its own GSD name, but we'll put up a poll just in case.
Thanks, Weather Channel, for the image.
Right now we would not need a lot of moisture to generate a lot of snow. With temps in the low teens on Monday, snow-to-liquid ratios could be as high as 20:1. If everything works out perfectly for this storm, we could get 10" of the lightest, easiest-to-shovel snow you will ever see without much trouble.

Before we get everyone too excited, though, we have two major concerns already with this storm. 1) We don't like the timing. It might start too late to cancel school for the day. 2) It's so cold we're worried about the cold air block that we experienced on Tuesday. Meteorologists seem less concerned with that scenario, but the super dry air could evaporate a lot of the moisture before it even hits the ground.

Current snowfall predictions we're seeing for Monday range from 3-5" to 8-10". We'll certainly try to narrow the gap between those predictions on Super Bowl Sunday. But the ideal GSD scenario for next week would be a snow day Monday and a freeze delay on Tuesday. That's not our official prediction just yet, but it's an outcome that was definitely discussed during our weekly staff meeting this morning.

If you have to go outside for an extended period over the next four days, be careful! Cover any exposed skin and add an extra layer or two. Throw a blanket in the trunk just in case.

Much more to follow later this weekend.

Friday Clipper

Don't get your hopes up. The radar doesn't look good and there really isn't much snow on the ground--1 inch at the Home Office. We do have a few delays to report outside of the Berkshires. 

2-HOUR DELAY:

Mt. Anthony (VT)
Berlin (NY)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snow Before Midnight

Good evening, snow lovers. Here's the 6:45 PM radar picture:


You can see that the storm is not particularly well organized, but that there is a sizable swath of moisture off to our west. The precipitation is moving in an easterly fashion, with a little turn to the north. The moisture will fill in and expand as it moves east.

The current forecast is for about a third of an inch of liquid with snow-to-liquid ratios running around 13:1. A well-timed four inches could certainly cause delays for several schools tomorrow. The Winter Weather Advisory that was leaked to us earlier starts at 10 PM tonight and ends at noon Friday.

Here's what we're thinking:

*The rate of the snow fall could be heavy between midnight and 2 AM, but road crews will have time to clear most major roads. (-)

*It will be snowing lightly during the morning commute, which will complicate the drive to school and work. (+)

*Schools in the northern half of Berkshire County will have a much better chance for a delay. The usual suspects--Stamford, Florida, Mohawk Regional--will probably have delays. Mt. Greylock, Adams/Cheshire, and Central Berkshire have a much better chance for a delay than schools south of Pittsfield.

*Definitely do your homework tonight--it's going to be one of those wake-up-see kind of mornings. And the GSD staff definitely is downplaying expectations for countywide delays. (-)

Hopefully we'll be able to do a running tally tomorrow morning.

Winter Weather Advisory

Psst. Northern Berkshire will be issued a Winter Weather Advisory later this afternoon. Don't tell anyone we told you. And we can't divulge our insider source. The forecast is now for 3-5" for NoBerk, 2-4" SoCo.

As for more details about this clipper and possible delays, read the previous post.

Clipper Time

Sorry if any of you were inconvenienced by the True North Confidence Meter technical difficulties were were having the last few days. We think our tech crew has fixed the problem, and it should now say 30% for a delay tomorrow.

We're again going to be in the "just miss" zone with this clipper. Winter Weather Advisories have been issued just to our north, and the north shore of Massachusetts and coastal Maine will be getting advisory level snow (3-6 inches) once the clipper re-energizes on the coast.

The timing of the snow has gone from "good" to "just okay." The latest radar picture suggests it's going to arrive earlier than we thought. We will see precipitation before midnight. And because there is not a lot of moisture with this clipper, there will be too much time for road crews to take care of business.

There's a chance for a delay, but it's becoming increasingly less likely. 30% is not a vote of high confidence.

As for our Monday storm--alas--more signs are suggesting it will go out to sea to our south. Several of the models are still predicting a moderate to heavy snowfall for the Berkshires, but twice as many now take the storm farther east and south of Western New England. We're definitely not giving up hope, though.

We'll run a list of delays tomorrow if it's warranted.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Clipper for Friday; Bigger Storm For Monday

We have two potential school-shortening weather events to look forward to over the next three school days. Thursday will a regular winter day with increasing high clouds and temps nearing freezing.

The first event is the milder Alberta Clipper that will move in from the northwest. The disturbance could bring as much as 3" to the Berkshires, with higher amounts in the North. The Adirondacks are looking at 3-6" from this medium-sized clipper. The timing looks to be very good--2 AM to 5 AM. Whether or not we have delays on Friday all depends on how quickly town road crews can get out there and move the snow. Unfortunately, it's not going to be that cold when the snow falls, so it will be easier to clear from the road. A 40% True North Confidence Meter for delays is about all we can offer.

It's not much but the timing could be right for delays. Thanks, Accuweather.
The brutal cold returns on Saturday. Highs in the low teens. Sunday will warm-up as the clouds move in ahead of the possible Monday snow storm.

It's still early yet, but we like what we're hearing about Monday's storm. Even though it will come out of the Ohio Valley and not be a coastal storm (contrary to what we thought a few days ago), there's so much cold air in place that we could see a moderate to heavy snowfall. The models are all indicating around an inch of liquid precipitation. We know the models were slightly off (!) for our last storm, but let's just go with the projections for now without taking any potshots at the models. Because of the cold air in place, we would see 8-12" for an event that would start in the early morning hours of Monday. Naturally, the chance for a snow day on Monday is much greater than a delay on Friday.

And even further into the future, we're seeing another storm for Thursday in the long-term weather guidance models. Yes, it's going to be a busy week.

And February break is just over two weeks away.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Post Belichick Delays?

It was only a matter of hours before the "Storm Belichick" and "deflating" comments appeared in the GSD Comment box. A tip of the cap to follower Gabe Pesce for being the first in with this joke. It's too bad the rest of the Northeast couldn't have had as much fun with our storm name as we did. The Weather Channel went with Juno, and the GSD Staff cannot figure out why in the world they would want to name a storm after a pregnant teenager.

It's hard to tell if it's snowing out right now with all the blowing snow, but we are getting a few backside bands of snow from the storm. We might tack on another inch this evening, but that will be about the size of it. While we really don't think so, we suppose there could a few delays tomorrow morning because of windblown snow. Do not count on it, especially with the forecast for snow Friday and Monday.

The 7:45 PM radar. Bands of snow are coming out of the north-northeast.
As for snow totals, we will end up with 3 to 4 inches at the GSD Home Office, depending on what happens tonight. A mere 75 miles to our east, the city of Worcester reported a whopping 32". We were so close to snow totals of epic proportions. The other amazing aspect of this storm has been the wind. Wind gusts in the 70 and 80 mph range were reported at Nantucket and off the coast of Gloucester. That's hurricane level wind.

We will enjoy a cold winter day tomorrow (low 20s), but the sun should be out and the winds will be tapering. Clouds will move in on Thursday, and we could see a well-timed shot of light snow Friday morning. We don't believe there will be any snow days as a result of it, but it could be a similar situation to the one that snuck up on us on the 15th of January. That would mean multiple delays.

Our best chance of a snow day looks to be a Monday. A coastal storm late Sunday night that could develop that will give us 4-8" of snow. It's still a ways out, but we're liking how active this weather pattern is.

Storm Belichick Update

You may have noticed that it's not really snowing that hard right now and that there isn't too much snow on the ground. Could this storm be a bust? You bet your bottom dollar it could be.

You may also have noticed the temperature is very cold--11 degrees at GSD HQ at 7 AM. What has happened is what we feared last night. The cold air is too firmly in place, and the snow shield--the western edge of the storm--has had trouble pushing through the cold air mass. The heavy bands that should have been giving us 1-3" of snow per hour have been blocked. The eastern part of Massachusetts is still getting the heavy snow (Worcester has 2 feet already with more to come), but it just isn't pushing through to us. In football terms, the Berkshires are the quarterback, the cold air is the offensive line, and the storm is the defense trying to blitz and sack the quarterback. Unfortunately for us snow lovers, the offensive line has stood up to the defense and not let it touch, hurry, knock down, or sack the QB.

We still will see snow throughout the day today. There will be enough of it to stick to the roads (because of the very cold temps), and we have the blowing and drifting of snow to contend with as the winds kick up. Even though it's not a blockbuster, travel will still be very difficult out there today, especially in the middle part of the day and late afternoon. The travel ban is technically still in place for all of Mass but it looks like it is being loosely enforced in the Berkshires.

If we see 6" total at the GSD Home Office at the end of this storm we'll be surprised. That two-day snow day idea we planted in your heads yesterday--that's out the window.

But don't despair. We have not one but two storms in our near future. Thursday night into Friday's clipper/coastal low should give us 3-5" right during the morning commute, and our weather eye has spotted another coastal storm that should impact us Sunday night into Monday.

Who's dreaming of a four-day Super Bowl weekend? GSD is, that's who.


Monday, January 26, 2015

What to Expect from Storm Belichick

Now that everything is shut down--even Williams and MCLA are off for tomorrow--let's hope that Storm Belichick comes through and justifies all the cancellations and preparedness. If we're going to have a storm, then let's have a storm!

One of the things to watch for is a fairly steep cutoff from this storm. What this means is that the line between deep snow totals and light snow totals will be very clearly marked. These kinds of sharp contrasts happen because very cold air is in place and the storm can't quite push farther north due to the cold air mass. For example, we could see 18" in Pittsfield but only 6-8" in Williamstown. We don't think that's where the line will set up, but be on the lookout for these kinds of steep differences in the region.

From the office of NWS Albany 
The forecast is still indicating a ton of moisture will flow from the Atlantic into our region. Our guess now is that the storm is leaking to the east slightly, which means the very heavy bands that will pummel central Massachusetts might not quite make it to the northwest corner of Berkshire County. We do think South County could get up to a foot more than the northern county towns.

The first heavy bands of snow should get to us around midnight. From then on, we'll have about 8-10 hours of sustained moderate and heavy snow. We will probably see a lull in the action around midday, and then the big question will be if wrap-around heavy bands of snow reach our area as the center of the storm slides into the Gulf of Maine. We could easily tack on another 6" tomorrow afternoon if that happens.

Here are guesses: North Adams will get 11"; Pittsfield sees 15" and Great Barrington will get to 20".  If those predictions hold true, we'll see a mixed bag of cancellations and two-hour delays on Wednesday.


Travel Ban for MA

Governor Charlie Baker has made the decision for superintendents everywhere. No one can be out on the roads after midnight tonight because of a statewide travel ban, and it's highly likely he's not going to lift that ban until the storm is well on its way tomorrow evening.

It's not official until your school tells you that you have no school, but we are exceedingly confident that there will not be any boys and girls gathering at their places of learning tomorrow.

We're going to forego our running tally of school cancellations because everyone will be cancelled. We will, however, start to turn our attention to Wednesday's delays and cancellations once some of the snowfall numbers start to come in from around the county.

Enjoy.


Morning Map Time

Everything is on course for the biggest storm of 2015. The forecasted amount of liquid is still high, but the storm center may end up tracking a little more to the east than we expected. This could take snow totals down to the 8-12" range for central and northern Berkshire County. Still, that's more than enough snow to warrant school cancellations for Tuesday.

Connecticut will be under a travel ban after 9 PM tonight. We might see Massachusetts make the same decree, thus guaranteeing a snow day for tomorrow.

Here are a few maps for your perusal:



The first is from the Albany office of the NWS. The second image is from Boston's Dave Epstein. We definitely won't be at the epicenter of the storm, but we're awfully close. If we do end up getting close to 2 feet of snow, there's a good chance many schools will be cancelled on Wednesday as well. Once we get into this storm and sort out Tuesday's cancellations, the GSD Office will refocus its efforts on Wednesday and the potential double snow day from Storm Belichick.

Look for a few snow showers and flurries around midday, and then the main snow event cranking up after dark tonight.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Waiting for Storm Belichick

Even though the polls are open for 14 more hours, it looks like the Master of the Ideal Gas Law will have his name enshrined in immortality with this storm. It may be the biggest honor he'll get this year.

We couldn't help ourselves and thought we'd pass on two little tasty morsels of information before the end of the night. The liquid associated with this storm is supposed to be in the 1-2" range, with more water south than north. That's one chunk of info. Because of the relatively cold temperatures for the next few days, snow to liquid ratios with this storm will be around 15:1. That's our other chunk. If we put the chunks together, that means at least 15" of snow starting later in the afternoon on Monday.

Now you know why weather geeks are all a-tingle with this storm.

We don't think there's going to be much mystery about this storm, but of course we'll keep everyone updated on cancellations when they come in.

You know things are serious if this is how Channel 13 sees it.
And we almost forget...

plowable snow could fall Thursday night into Friday morning as an Alberta Clipper passes through our area and then re-forms along the coast. We thought it would take until February for the storm pattern to change. Fickle Mother Nature strikes again.

Winter Storm Warning

More good news from the good folks at The National Weather Service. We've been upgraded from a Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning. Get ready to feel the wrath of Old Man Winter!

The duration of the Warning is from 1 PM Monday to 1 AM Wednesday. You can't ask for better timing. We expect many school districts to make the call for the snow day tomorrow night or even at the end of school tomorrow (Monday).

Tomorrow, you might want to stock up on a few supplies if you're running low. Travel will be very difficult Monday night and all day Tuesday. No one should be out on the roads on Tuesday. It's possible that the Governor of the Commonwealth could call a State of Emergency, which would prohibit travel.

We also expect local colleges to have to cancel for the day.

By the way, the latest over/under snow day number for this storm is 1.5. Yes, that means some schools--we're thinking South County schools will have the best shot--could have the double snow day from this behemoth.

Check out Accuweather's latest hype:

That's a lot of snow.
Enjoy this one; storms this big don't come around too often.

Blizzard of 2015?

By now you're probably on to the fact that a major winter storm is expected to traumatize the Northeast starting Monday afternoon and lasting through Wednesday for parts of eastern Maine.

Yes, this storm really snuck up on meteorologists. It wasn't supposed to be a big deal three and four days ago, but then the models started to get into alignment and the storm started taking a northerly track.

A nice map from Boston meteorologist Dave Epstein's Twitter feed.
The B word--blizzard--is being thrown around out there by the talking heads of news/weather/sports outlets. When New York and Boston are slated to get a major snowstorm, it's as if the entire nation is being hit by the storm, so we're going to see a ton of hype with this one. We probably won't get to blizzard conditions in Western Mass. Remember, in order for a storm to be considered a blizzard, the following conditions must be met: 1) sustained winds or frequent gusts above 35 mph; 2) less than a quarter mile of visibility from falling and blowing snow; 3) conditions 1 and 2 must occur for at least three hours. So really, a blizzard is a snow storm with heavy winds.

The hype for this storm is not entirely groundless. The hardworking folks at GSD have been on the clock since the announcement of the Winter Storm Watch and all evidence points to a double digit snowfall for the Berkshires.

Already a few schools have called off after school activities for tomorrow, which seems premature. We will, however, see many cancellations of Monday night's athletic contests, concerts, and meetings. With Saturday's slate of games wiped out and most likely Monday's and Tuesday's games off the docket, end-of-season schedules just got a lot tighter for high school teams.


Winter Storm Watch for Monday/Tuesday

A few days ago an Alberta Clipper was supposed to impact our area on Monday with a chance of light snow. Today, we are very pleased to report that a potential blockbuster storm is on its way. This storm will start Monday afternoon and not end until Tuesday night. Over a foot of snow is likely.

The NWS is suggesting that between 8 and 16 inches of snow will fall, with some areas getting 20 inches. Other weather outlets are suggesting up to 2 feet. The GSD Staff is on high alert. Our True North Confidence Meter is currently reflecting how big this storm could be.

Feast your eyes on that! Thanks, Accuweather.
There still is some uncertainty with just how heavy the snow will be on Tuesday, but the timing looks good as does the duration of the storm. If meteorologists were more certain about the storm development, they would have issued a Warning by now, not just a Watch.

And that's really the only big development we will be looking for to move the Confidence Meter to 100% (that's right, you read that correctly). If the Watch becomes a Warning, then most schools will be calling in snow days for Tuesday. It's possible some will even make the call Monday night.

We need a quick turnaround on our storm's name so vote today!


Friday, January 23, 2015

Snowy Saturday; Countywide Advisory

[This post has been updated.]

Just a brief check in about the weather situation for tomorrow...

The NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for all of Berkshire County tomorrow. The possibility of up to 6" exists for the southernmost parts of our area. Central and Northern Berkshire could see up to 4" from tomorrow's storm.

Projected snow fall totals by Sunday morning. Dark green is between 4 and 6 inches.
As for timing, we should see falling snow when we wake up tomorrow morning. The peak intensity looks like it will be between 9 AM and 12 PM tomorrow. The snow will begin to taper later in the afternoon as the storm bombs quickly through our area. Temperatures tomorrow will max out at 32 or 33 degrees, and as a result, it's possible for a brief period of sleet in the mid afternoon period. The snow/sleet should wrap up by 8 PM.

Take it slow out there tomorrow. It's nothing we haven't seen before, so we should be able to manage it, but allow extra time for your Saturday errands.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Snow For Saturday

The good news is that a nor'easter is heading toward us for Saturday. The bad news is that this medium/biggish storm will just miss us to the south and east. All of Berkshire County should see snow on Saturday with South County likely to get 1-3 inches, and Northern Berkshire only seeing an inch.

Enjoy it while it lasts, Downeast Maine!
The models are in good agreement right now on this low snow total outcome. There is the small possibility that the storm will hug more tightly to the coast and bring the storm more inland, but the GSD Staff does not think too highly of that scenario. If it does, we would see Winter Weather Advisories for Saturday but no Winter Storm Watches or Warnings.

Even though it's a Saturday and we're not going to see much from this storm, at least we're finally talking about snow again.

We also have our eye on a light Alberta Clipper on Monday that could bring 2-3 inches to our area if it develops off the coast.

These storms usher in a deeper winter chill for all of next week. Get out the face covering again.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter Doldrums

Hopefully everyone enjoyed a nice three-day weekend and is well rested for a big four-day week. It's twiddling thumbs time these days in the ol' GSD Home Office as we have very little to report by way of storms for the next ten days.

We could see a light dusting Wednesday night into Thursday, and there is some discussion of a short period of snow on Monday afternoon, but that storm is so far off and our forecast so speculative that we aren't even being responsible by mentioning it. But that's how bad things are these days on the winter storm front. Temperatures for the next week will be fairly normal this time of year. The low for the week will be Wednesday morning--single digits--while the high this week will occur on Thursday--mid 30s.

We are due for a change in the weather pattern, at some point. It might not occur for a few weeks, but when things do shift, we'll should see an active period for the first part of February. Nothing brings on February vacation faster than a few well-timed snow days!

Keep the faith; we'll have good news eventually.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Brutal Cold Returns (But Not For Long)

Tomorrow morning could bring us the coldest temperatures since...last Thursday. Last Thursday we saw almost 100% of the schools in the district call in a two-hour delay or complete day off.

Why is there no discussion of a delay tomorrow, then? The main reason is the lack of wind. Last week we had a Wind Chill Warning for our area, which doesn't happen often; tomorrow we will have a wind chill of nil, nada, and zip. Also, temps will warm up fairly rapidly during the day and get all the way into the 20s.

Projected temps for 7 AM Wednesday. That's a -7 over North Adams.
Unfortunately, we see no storms coming in the next week--just a small chance of snow showers Thursday night into Friday. And above average warmth will take over the Northeast for the last two weeks of January. We still could see storms in this period, but we'll be dealing with the snow-sleet-rain regression, which simply isn't fun and usually leads to dashed hopes.

Perhaps you'll win the lottery and your buses won't start tomorrow. Best of luck with that!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Possible Black Ice Tuesday AM

After a brief period of snow tonight that could give us an extra half inch or so--and don't even think about a snow day tomorrow--we will see temperatures plunge over 20 degrees by the first bus routes of the day tomorrow. 

Because of the wet road conditions, drivers need to be aware of possible black ice patches tomorrow morning on secondary roads. It is  conceivable a district could call a late delay if a road crew superintendent thinks it's unsafe out there. 

Be alert during the morning commute. 

Early Release Questions Answered

Calls have been coming in all morning to the GSD Home Office about the possibility of an early release today. Sadly, odds are low.

Yes, the WWA goes through 4 PM and sleet is supposed to mix into the precipitation (if it hasn't already) this afternoon. A quick check of the radar, though, indicates that the snow and sleet will taper considerably around 2 PM. The roads aren't going to be great when high schools release the children from their cages, but they should be passable.

What we might see are widespread cancellations of afternoon activities, as long as the snow is still falling at 2 PM. After a period of very light snow drizzle, another band of snow will drag through our area around 4 PM. We're also seeing signs of the moisture start to fill in in parts of New York, which could make its way to the Berkshires throughout the afternoon and shorten the window of quiet.

Any evening games should be safe from cancellation, though, as the precipitation will be mostly completed by 5 PM.

Monday Snow Update

The snow started falling right on time. We have half an inch on the ground at the GSD Home Office and the temperature a perfect 26 degrees. The temps will go up throughout the day, which is why we'll see sleet in some areas.

Here's the latest radar image:

4:30 AM on Monday.

Notice that the storm is not particularly well defined. We will see the snow stop for an hour or so before we get another longer period of snow. Unfortunately, that dry slot in central NY and PA looks to time well with the departure of the first buses of the day. The official GSD position on delays is now slightly lower than the 33% we predicted last night. We'll still see a few delays but only a few.

When we get delas, we'll set up our running list here. Take it slow on the way to school today no matter when we start.

[Update: our inside sources indicate that North Adams, McCann and Mount Greylock will start on time. No news on mid and South County schools as of 6 AM.]

1-HOUR DELAY:

Adams/Cheshire

2-HOUR DELAY:

BArT
Berlin, NY
Lebanon, NY

SNOW DAY:

Hoosick Falls, NY
Mohawk Trail

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter Weather Advisory for Monday

We have good news and bad news.

The good news is that the NWS has bumped up our Monday storm to a Winter Weather Advisory level. The bad news is that the reason for this advisory is the threat of sleet and ice with this event. The timing is from 3 AM to 4 PM Monday.

The neutral news is that the storm might start later than we think. If it pushes back by 60 or 90 minutes, we still should be okay for delay decisions. If it's 2 or 3 hours later, we're going to have one of those mornings where Superintendents should have called a snow day but will not have. That's just going to make everyone even grumpier on a Monday morning.

Here's a shot of the 5 PM radar:


The precipitation is moving toward us in an east-northeast fashion. We wish the initial wall of moistrue were a little heavier to ensure that the roads will be coated thoroughly by 6 AM. We believe the front edge of the storm will hit around 4 AM, which still works in our favor, but we don't like the looks of that dry slot between Pittsburgh and Cincy.

We still think a few schools will have delays tomorrow, but not everyone in the County will be so lucky. Check in with GSD when you wake up--we'll have a running tally of delays going as soon as the calls come in.

A White Monday Morning Commute

For the third school/business day in a row, we have a likely delay scenario staring us dead in the face.

This map shows a middle confidence prediction for snow for our area by midnight on Monday. We are safely in the 2-3" forecast zone.
Here's what we know about the storm that we like:

1. Liquid expected with this storm is supposed to be about 0.3 inches--almost all models are in agreement. If we go with a modest snow-to-liquid ratio of 10 inches for every 1 inch of snow, even the worst high school math student can figure this out. (Hint: it's somewhere between 2 and 4.)

2. The snow is supposed to start shortly after 3 AM. We should have at least an inch on the ground by sunrise, according to NOAA.

3. Road conditions were very poor for Friday morning's commute. Monday's mini disturbance is strikingly similar to Friday's storm, minus one aspect (see #1 below).

Here's what we don't like about this storm:

1. The initial phase of snow will not be quite as intense as Friday's storm. This storm is coming in from the southeast, so it will be slower and last longer (a 10-12 hour event). Friday's storm, like a lot of failed high school romances, was faster and more intense.

2. The temperatures will be warmer so the snow will not adhere to the roads quite as well as it did on Friday.

3. Road crews had practice with Friday's storm and might be more efficient Monday. Just a theory.

So, what's going to happen...

Our best guess is that some and not all of schools in BC will have a 2-hour delay, with the usual suspects more in line for the delay than the stingier districts. Central Berkshire has been very liberal this year; the bigger city schools have been generous; South County schools less so (some of that has to do with simple geography.)

We'll know more about the timing much later tonight--post football play-off games--and offer up a final report for the pleasure of our readership. Good day!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Good Things Come in Threes

Happy Weekend, flake followers. We hope you enjoyed yesterday's light, fluffy, delay-inducing snow. The mini storm eluded are accurate prognostication (okay, fine, we missed it), but better to miss it the good way than the bad way. Now that would have been embarrassing.

This is all to say that we're giving you fair warning for a possible delay event for Monday. We could see an unprecedented third two-hour delay in a row for most Berkshire County schools. The current models are forecasting a light snow event--1 to 3 inches--but once again the time looks delightful. If the timing is right on the button as it was on Friday, we could see several delays. The other factor that road crews will have to contend with is the possibility of sleet mixing in.

Could it be? Another delay? (Thanks, Accuweather.)
The timing for this storm could change, which will greatly change our chances for a delay. Right now we're going to set the True North Confidence Meter at 25%. Check in throughout the weekend for updates. Unfortunately, though, we still see no major storms in the runs of the long-range forecast models. Alas.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Sneaky Alberta Clipper

[See the previous post for our complete list of delays for Friday.]

In the winter storm family, the Alberta Clipper is the annoying little brother. A generator of light, "nuisance" snows, the AC is often weak and moves through like a gadfly. Occasionally, clippers get to the coast, stall, and then develop into coastal lows. But these scenarios are rare.

In terms of snowfall, today's Alberta clipper really won't generate much--only 3 inches, perhaps 4 in higher elevations. As of 7 AM at the GSD Home Office, we measured 1.8 inches of snow. It all wraps up before noon today, with some brief snow showers popping up in the afternoon.

The big lesson from today's storm is that it's all about the timing. This storm couldn't have been any better. Moderate snow starting around 3:30 and continuing to come down hard when road crew supervisors started to mobilize their crews and when Superintendents started to wake up to face the day. In the case of Mount Greylock, road crews thought they could manage it, but the snow proved to be too moderate and a very late (6:30) call went out. But no delay call is ever too late.

Two days of sleeping in this week for most districts! Not a bad way to ease into the grind after the holiday vacation.

Delays for Friday

A light snow is falling right at the perfect time this morning, making for suboptimal driving conditions today. 

Most school districts have played it very safe this morning and have called in delays. Our running list is below. 

Snow will be light through about 10 AM. Highest snow totals will be 3 inches. Because of the very cold air in place, the snow will adhere to the roads, making for slow travel especially on untreated roads. If everyone just takes it easy out there, getting to school and work shouldn't be too difficult. We are hearty New Englanders after all. 

2-HOUR DELAY

Berkshire Hills
Mohawk Trail
Adams/Cheshire 
Pittsfield
Lenox
North Adams
Clarksburg
Hancock
Central Berkshire 
Mount Greylock 
Lee
Williamstown
Lanesboro ugh

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Alberta Clipper for Thursday Night and Friday Morning

We low-balled the chance for a delay tomorrow with only a 50% prediction earlier today. Fortunately, almost all schools in Berkshire County have called for a delay or cancellation tomorrow. Everybody wins.

Here is our complete list for Thursday morning. We will update and add to should any schools change their minds. Changes from yesterday's announcements are in RED:

2-HOUR DELAY:

Adams/Cheshire
Mount Greylock
Lee
Lanesboro 
Williamstown
New Lebanon
Central Berkshire
BArT
Berkshire Hills

CLOSED

Pittsfield
Southern Berkshire
North Adams
Hancock
Clarksburg 
Richmond
Florida


Dangerous cold. Image courtesy of Accuweather.
We do need to keep an eye out for an Alberta clipper that will slide by us Thursday night into Friday morning. At the most we'll see 2 inches of snow, but that could mean for a troublesome commute on Friday. With the cold temps and blowing of snow, drivers will need to be very careful. It's unlikely superintendents will call for a delay on Friday, but there's an outside shot--5% on the True North Confidence Meter.

We'll post again soon! There are no big storms in the long-range forecast. Boo-hoo.

Freeze Delays Announced

Breaking news for all GSD readers. Adams/Cheshire has called in the first delay for Thursday morning due to the anticipated unseasonably frigid and dangerous conditions. Congratulations, all you Hurricanes and future Hurricanes! Enjoy the shortened day.

[Shortly after this post, Pittsfield Public schools called in its delay. The dominoes are falling.]

We'll keep a running list here or at the bottom of any new posts we put up later today.

There isn't any really helpful new weather news. We could see a few more squalls this afternoon, but mostly we'll see the clouds start to break, setting up the clearing skies for low, low temps. Just how low we'll go is still up in the air, but at least -5 with the gusting winds taking the wind chill to -25 (at least).

2-HOUR DELAY:

Adams/Cheshire
Pittsfield
Southern Berkshire
Mount Greylock
Lee
Lanesboro 
Williamstown
New Lebanon
Central Berkshire
BArT
Berkshire Hills

CLOSED

North Adams
Hancock
Clarksburg 
Richmond
Florida 

Wind Chill Warning for the Berkshires

The National Weather Service has raised the stakes for our delay scenarios for tomorrow morning by issuing a Wind Chill Warning. The Warning lasts until 10 AM. This is good news for those in desperate need of a two-hour delay after three whole days of school without a break.

Wind Chill Warnings are rare and should not be taken lightly. The wind chill temp could approach -25 in the valleys and -40 in the higher terrains. That's some serious cold. If you have to go outside later tonight and tomorrow morning, winter mummification rules are in effect--no exposed skin. Frostbite can set in very quickly with air temps that low.

We do expect to see cautionary delays tomorrow morning for a few schools because of the Wind Chill Warning. Pittsfield is adding extra buses tomorrow morning for walkers, so that may be one district that will not have a delay.

Today, we could see up to 2" of snow as squalls move into the Berkshires. NOAA is even suggesting that a Winter Weather Advisory could be put up later today because the wind and blowing of snow will create blinding conditions.

All in all, the next 36 hours will be arctic, snowy, and blustery. Winter lovers,  rejoice!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Freeze Delays for Thursday?

While we are enjoying a most pleasant and innocuous light snow fall today, the GSD Home Office is really looking hard at the weather maps for Thursday morning as we deal with the onset of a crushing cold air mass. We strongly feel that some schools will choose to delay the start of school on Thursday because of the bitter cold.

Right now the major weather information sources (Weather Channel, Accuweather, Intellicast) have the Berkshires in the -6 to -11 zone for Thursday morning. If Wednesday night is cloudless, radiational cooling will drive the temperature well below zero. Compounding the problem of the severe cold is a harsh wind that will kick up during the day on Wednesday and carry through Thursday. Winds could gust to 40 mph on Wednesday--that will be refreshing! If winds are blowing around 20 mph in the overnight hours and on Thursday morning, they will make it feel as if it is -25 out. Brrr.

Now this looks like fun. Thanks, Accuweather, for the image.
For this reason we think several but not all schools will delay the start by a few hours to make sure buses are operating properly so students won't get stranded at bus stops. Also, anyone who walks to school will surely need a ride even after a two-hour delay.

Most buses have diesel engines, and diesel and subzero temperatures don't go well together. Buses are equipped with heaters to keep the diesel at an optimal temperature, but we've seen in the past that very low temps can knock buses out of commission.

As for snow, don't be surprised to see a few heavy squalls in the Berkshires tomorrow. These will be hit-or-miss and won't last very long, but they could coat the roads quickly. Our next chance is for more showers on Friday. There is a 1% chance of a weekend coastal storm that would impact school on Monday.

We'll have more info tomorrow in anticipation of the coldest air of the season on Thursday.

Monday, January 5, 2015

It is January, After All

The mercury is a-droppin' and the wind is a-blowin'! Welcome to Winter 2015.

As of 3:30 today (Monday), the temperature has dropped 30 degrees since yesterday's high of 47. As the temp bottoms out around 11 degrees (above zero) tonight, the wind will start to dissipate. And we still have the coldest weather ahead of us for Wednesday night into Thursday, perhaps the coldest in these parts since 2004.

The blustery and snowy weather we saw today will be repeated throughout the week. We have a chance of a ground-covering Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday. There will not be enough snow to merit delays, but we could see a half inch on the ground. A few more snow showers could be flying around on Friday. There is some minor talk about an end of the weekend storm, but we're not confident that it will develop. But there's always hope.

We are now looking at the possibilities for cold delays Thursday. The temperature will be well below zero (between -5 and -10), and the wind will be very strong. It will be unsafe to have exposed skin if you are waiting at a bus stop Thursday morning. Schools with many walkers will want to consider delaying the start of the day by an hour or two to let the temperature rise and the winds to ease up. Still, we will only see a high of 15 or so on Thursday.

Stay warm and stay alert about delays on Thursday!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winter Storm Upgrade for Northern Berkshire

Things are brightening on the snow front. The National Weather Service has graciously decided to upgrade the Winter Weather Advisory to a Winter Storm Warning for Northern Berkshire County. South Berkshire still has a WWA.

The biggest concern for us is the time frame and how quickly the storm will shift from snow to ice. Right now we think the snow will start around 4 PM. It will likely come down at a moderate to heavy rate from 5 to 10 PM. After that period, we'll see the snow switch to mixed precip for a few hours and then all rain by (at the latest) sunrise on Sunday. Unfortunately, the last night of vacation will not be a great night to head out on the town for a movie or bite to eat.

The county will see around 3 inches from this storm, with higher amounts in the north and hill towns. We're hoping that the rain will not completely eliminate the snow because it's about time it looks like winter out there.

Thanks to Channel 6 for this image. We think it's slightly low; we expect the nose of the 4-6" band to push further south.
What will definitely feel like winter, though, is the cold air expected to move in after Sunday's warm-up. We will see our first subzero temps of the season on Thursday morning. It won't be so cold to give us a few cold delays, but it will be close.

Get out the shovel and the extra heavy parka--it's going to be a lively weather week!

Friday, January 2, 2015

1st WWA of 2015

Old Man Winter has wasted little time getting 2015 off on the right foot. The NWS has announced a Winter Weather Advisory for the Berkshires starting at 4 PM Saturday. 

The WWA only lasts through 11 PM so this will be a quick hitter. It's likely we'll see 2 or 3 inches from this weekend low pressure system. 

Drive safely tomorrow afternoon and night. It will be slick out there!