A day ahead of another potential winter weather mess for the Berkshires and the rest of the state, government and private forecasters remain up in the air over how much snow, sleet, freezing rain or just plain rain may fall over the region from Saturday until Sunday afternoon.
At the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., forecasters were holding off on issuing any winter weather alerts for Berkshire County on Friday morning as the half-dozen major computer models used to pinpoint precipitation probabilities remained at loggerheads.
Complications are numerous, according to NWS meteorologist Thomas Wasula in his Friday morning outlook. South Berkshire is likely to see a wintry mix while North Berkshire, which the Albany office defines as areas north of the MassPike, could get from 6 to 10 inches of wet snow. The bulk of the precipitation is expected from Saturday evening into Sunday morning.
“The forecast becomes tricky and challenging on the weekend,” Wasula acknowledged, since the computer models still showing “plenty of dissonance and discrepancy.” The Atlantic storm expected to gather strength off the Delmarva coast is likely to track south of Long Island, N.Y., before hugging the coast up to Cape Cod.
That scenario, if it verifies, would bring enough milder air into the system to prevent an all-snow setup for South Berkshire, but North Berkshire and Southern Vermont are in line for heavier snowfall tallies.
Typically for late winter, valley locations are likely to see lower totals, perhaps 2 to 6 inches, but higher elevations in the hill towns as well as the northern half of the county could be shoveling out from 6 to 10 inches.
“These totals could change drastically with a shift in the storm track,” Wasula cautioned, along with a potential infusion of above-freezing temperatures.
To the east, the National Weather Service office in Taunton, near Boston, issued a higher-confidence outlook on Friday morning, calling for a significant coastal storm and a potential for damaging, heavy wet snow in portions of the state, with the highest risk north of the MassPike. But meteorologists there also acknowledged a “very tricky forecast.”
Nevertheless, the government forecasters there issued a winter storm watch for western, central and northeastern Massachusetts, citing a potential of 6 to 12 inches of snow.
“We are concerned because this will be a wet snow which could result in downed tree limbs and scattered power outages,” stated meteorologist Stephanie Dunten. She also pinpointed the MassPike as the rough dividing line, with heavy snow more likely to the north and a mixture shaping up south of I-90.
Private forecasters, including The Weather Channel, Accuweather and Weather Underground were also hedging their bets on Friday, zeroing in on a 3- to 7-inch totals for western Massachusetts.
As WCVB-TV Boston’s senior forecaster Harvey Leonard Tweeted: “This is one of the tough war forecast situations I’ve seen.”