Monday, November 28, 2016

Freezing Rain Advisory for Tuesday, November 29

Late breaking news: the NWS has issued a Freezing Rain Advisory for Tuesday morning's commute. Expect to see slippery roads, especially in higher elevations.

These icy conditions could develop in towns north of I-90 after 3 AM. Ice is hard to predict, but there's definitely a good chance a superintendent who is on the ball might see the need to delay school for a time to allow road crews to sand and salt streets, roads and avenues.

We'll throw a 20% chance of delays on the ol' True North Confidence Meter to reflect that a few school administrators might call in delays, especially in Northern Berkshire County.

After 8 AM we'll see the freezing rain change to all rain.

Another round of surprise decisions for a shortened day may be in store! You've been alerted!

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Week Ahead

Wow, we really misjudged yesterday and today's storm. Legendarily so. If we had missed it the other way--predicted a snow day and ended up with school--we might have had to shut down Greylock Snow Day. But we haven't had a miss the good way in several years, so we were due.

After a GSD Staff Post-Storm Debrief today, here is why we missed it:

1) So many storms over the last few years have been busts that we've learned to approach these "out of nowhere" storms with caution. Once bitten, twice shy, et cetera, et cetera.

2) These upslope, wrap-around storms are harder to predict especially because snow totals are so specific to elevation. There was so much spread in snow totals throughout the county. Some areas in Northern Berkshire County received 4 inches. Places in South County got a foot and a half. And it was supposed to be a more northerly storm. Weather guidance is getting better and better about these kinds of anomalous storms, so we might have to rely more on the data and models more than common sense would typically allow.

3) We're rusty. We didn't get too many reps in last winter, so we're slightly out of practice. That will change. You can expect an immediate return to the high quality of service you've been accustomed to over the years. That's why, in response to our mistake with this storm, we are going to offer 50% off the cost to access this sight for the rest of the 2016-17 season. That's right. That's 50% off our regular price for the next 5 months! That's the kind of thing we do for our loyal followers.

In the end the day off for most students means that a short week just got even shorter. Most schools will be in session on Wednesday, but with a half day the norm before the feasting, a 1.5 day week is just what the doctor ordered.

As for wintery weather in the forecast, we have three minor disturbances heading our way that should drop some form of frozen precipitation on us. None of these storms will produce more than an inch or two of snow. For all three storms, higher elevations should see more snow, and valleys will see more mixing and even rain. On Wednesday night into Thanksgiving, we could see sleet and snow, with the precipitation ending by the afternoon. Roads could be slightly messy on Thursday morning but nothing like last night and today. Saturday night presents a very similar situation, and then we expect the same wintry mix/light snow storm for Monday. None of these storms will bring any surprise upgrades. If anything, they will fizzle and just bring a few showers. The best chance for a measurable amount of snow will Thursday morning.

Enjoy the short week! The next several weeks look unsettled, but temps look like they'll be in the high 30s and 40s. Storms will trend toward rain and mixed precipitation for the next 21 days.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Delays and Cancellations for Monday

UPDATE: Snow continues to fall at a light but steady clip throughout the Berkshires. We may see a break in the action around 9 AM but then more rounds of steady, light snow throughout the day. Of more concern, perhaps, is the wind, which is gusty and powerful and blowing the snow back onto already treated roads. We will not be surprised to see many delays this morning and even cancellations. The roads on the ride in to the GSD Home Office this morning were not good at all.

UPDATE (6:00 AM): Most districts have opted for the full snow day. What a pleasant surprise! We don't mind being wrong when it works in everyone's favor. The lingering question will be if the two-hour delay schools upgrade to the full snow day.

Here is the updated list of school-truncating announcements from districts in our region:


Hoosick Falls (NY)
North Adams
Savoy (Emma L Miller)


Berkshire Christian
Berkshire Community College
Berkshire Country Day
Berkshire Hills
Central Berkshire
Florida (Gabriel Abbott)
Mount Anthony (Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union)
Mount Greylock
Otis (Farmington River)
New Lebanon (NY)
Pine Cobble
Southern Berkshire

Final Snow Storm Update for Sunday

One of our GSD Staff members travelled route 7 tonight and discovered one thing: the roads are a mess! Roads were mostly untreated from Lee northward except in a few troublesome hill spots, and the town of Williamstown had route 7 down to wet pavement, but overall the driving quality was treacherous. The staff member saw evidence of at least three cars that had slid off the road. If the snow continues to fall throughout the night--and it's doubtful that it will--then we'll see widespread delays for the county tomorrow.

The problem, though, is this snapshot of the radar:

The 7:35 PM radar.

There is a nice big blue patch over Berkshire County, but that patch is moving north to south, so it looks like we're going to see uninterrupted snow only for the next four hours or so. If it stops around midnight, say, then that will give road crews plenty of time to clean up the roads.

One factor working in favor of delays is the blowing and drifting of snow. We do have a wind advisory in effect through tomorrow night which could mean blowing snow onto the roadways well into the morning hours.

As a result of these changes in the conditions, we've decided to bump up the likelihood of a delay to 35%. The chance of a snow day is remote.

Those students with pre-holiday tests should definitely study for them. We really hope we're wrong, but most students will have a full day tomorrow.

Snow To Continue Overnight

Greetings, Snow Lovers. We hope you're enjoying this early season storm. Here a few snow totals we've observed from the local environs: 12" in Canaan, NY; 8" in Hinsdale; 4" in Williamstown.

We're firmly in phase 2 of the storm, which is this upslope light snow we'll see for most of the night. Because the snow will continue for much of the night and the temps are going to drop a few degrees, we're going to bump the chance of a delay tomorrow to 25%. Most schools will have a full school day, but a few will see delays, especially those with students in the higher elevation towns.

While 25% is not very encouraging for those who would like a shorter day tomorrow, don't forget that a certain President Elect also had a 25% chance of winning a well-documented election exactly two weeks ago today. So, yes, we're saying there's a chance for all of the students out there.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed.

Sunday Morning Snow

Heavy snow is now falling throughout all of the Berkshires. Expect the snow to continue until about 10 AM and things will slow down. It looks like the GSD Home Office will get 3-4" for this first part of the storm.

Part two of the storm will be less predictable. The wind will kick up and we should see snow pick back up toward the evening when the back end of the storm kicks in and the flow of the storm moves from north to south. With the back end part of the storm, we could get 1 inch or we could 6 inches. It all depends on how much moisture is in the air from the first part of the storm.

Please see the previous post, which has more details about the chance for delays tomorrow.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Snow Possible for the Next Two Days

Wow! What a difference a day makes. About 36 hours ago, we were looking at the potential for an inch or so on Sunday and Monday in the Berkshires and that was about it.

So, needless to say we were very surprised and delighted to see the notice that a Winter Storm Warning was posted for Northern Berkshire County starting at 1 AM Sunday.

There's an even chance this map could be right...
But three things were very odd about this announcement, the last of which should give you pause about getting too excited about a delay or snow day for Monday.

Odd thing number one: typically there is a progression for these early season storms from the Winter Weather Advisory to the Winter Storm Watch and then to the Winter Storm Warning. In basic terms, the Advisory suggests under 6"of snow is possible; the Watch means 6+" is possible; the Warning means 6+" is likely. Usually the National Weather Service does not go right to the Warning.

Odd thing number two is the long duration of the Warning period: 1 AM Sunday to 7 PM Monday. That's not that unusual for midwinter storms but it's unusual for this time of year.

Odd thing number three--and the main reason you need to slow your roll, as the kids say--is that this Winter Storm Warning is only for locations above 1000 feet. (ICYMI--Florida 1895', Dalton 1198', Lanesborough 1129', Cheshire 963', Adams 799', North Adams 705', Williamstown 636')

What this means is that we will get a blast of snow--upwards of 3" even in the valleys--when the cold front moves through very early on Sunday (5 AM-ish). (And by the way, those mid-60s you enjoyed today? They are history. Sunday will see highs in the high 30s and gradually sinking throughout the day and on into Monday to right around 30 degrees.) Then, as the front goes through and cold air gets pulled into the Berkshires from the north, it's going to produce a snow-making machine that will lock in over the Berkshires and drop snow on us for several hours in the evening Sunday and on into Monday. The snow could be heavy in the mountains, but it will be less heavy in the valleys.

So...after careful study of the data pouring in, we think that towns like Lanesborough, North Adams, Adams and Cheshire will see anywhere from 3" to 8". Our good friends up on Florida Mountain could have a snow day Monday, but the rest of us in Northern Berkshire county can at best only hope for a delay on Monday morning. And even that chance is going to be slight because of the warmth of the roadways due to the 60 degree temps the past two days.

Things may change tomorrow, but right now we see a 15% chance of a delay for schools north of Pittsfield and virtually no chance for schools in mid-county and below. Central Berkshire has a slightly higher chance because of the hill towns in that district.

All you nordic and alpine skiers: keep your fingers crossed that the forecast gets even worse! And enjoy the first real shovel-able snow of the season! We'll have much more tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Winter Comes A-creeping...

You heard the magical S word in the news lately, and now you've come to the source that will give you the real story.

Here's the authentic narrative, a.k.a the skinny:

Snow showers Sunday night into Monday, and a similar scenario for Thanksgiving Eve and Turkey Day itself, but that's about the size of it.

It's unlikely we'll see much, if any, accumulation, especially in the lower elevations of Berkshire County. The farther south you go, the less of a chance you will have of seeing snow on the grassy surfaces. Hill towns might get an inch or so.

Watch for plummeting temperatures over the next five days. We will breach the 60 degree mark on Saturday (shorts weather?), but by Monday the highs will be in the low 30s. Winter is upon us.

With this kind of marked shift in the temperatures, there is always instability and precipitation but the best we can expect are bands of occasionally heavy snow showers Sunday afternoon and into Monday morning. There is very little chance of a delay on Monday morning (but wouldn't that be nice?).

Close, but not a direct hit. Thanks to Accuweather for the graphic.
On Wednesday, we could see snow late at night then a shift over to rain early Thursday and then snow again as the storm wraps around and brings cool air in from the northwest, thus turning the remaining precipitation into the frozen variety.

Even though the forecast does not bring us accumulating snow, the good news is that the temperatures are starting to dip. A prolonged cold stretch will greatly increase the likelihood of a school-day truncation or cancellation.