A potential nor’easter developing off the Atlantic coast is expected to dump up to a foot of snow on the Berkshires, potentially crippling holiday travel for those planning getaways to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving.
A winter storm watch has been posted for the Berkshires and surrounding counties from 7 a.m. Wednesday — one of the season’s heaviest travel days on the ground and in the air — until 10 a.m. Thursday.
Snowfall totals across the Berkshires are expected to range from 10 to 12 inches, according to meteorologist Brian Frugis of the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y.
Because the 14 U.S., European and Canadian computer models used by forecasters still differed on the precise track of the storm when it reaches the New England coast from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the amount of snowfall and the timing remain moving targets.
“We have moderate confidence in the forecast since there are still some differences in the computer models tracking the storm,” said Frugis said.
AccuWeather forecasters recommended that travelers in western New England head to their destinations on Tuesday, if possible. The worst conditions are expected from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday morning.
To the east, along the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston, 3 to 6 inches are likely, Rayno said, because the storm is expected to begin as rain near the coast on Wednesday morning.
The prospect of a late-autumn snowstorm comes as a rude awakening to Berkshire residents who enjoyed a spring-like Monday, with temperatures topping out at 63 in Pittsfield before mid-afternoon clouds rolled in. The high for Nov. 24 at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, 67 set in 1999, remains in the record books.
At Harriman & West Airport in North Adams, Monday’s high reached 68.
The state Department of Transportation projects nearly 1 million motorists, fueled by the lowest gas prices in 4 years and an improved economy, will hit the roads in Massachusetts during the five-day holiday period, a 4 percent increase from last year.
Nationally, according to AAA, the average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles round trip and Americans will spend an average of $573 on their trips during the holiday weekend Wednesday through Sunday.