Fizzle or sizzle? Another storm to watch

Another potential winter storm, another icy, dicey forecast typical of late winter, when snowfall in the Berkshires hinges on a degree or two of difference in temperatures and the precise positioning of bad-weather systems.

Just three days after a fizzled coastal storm went out to sea, sparing the county of anything beyond a couple of inches of a slushy mix of rain, snow and sleet, the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y., has issued a winter storm watch for all of Berkshire County for a 24-hour period from Tuesday through Wednesday night.

The remnants of the blizzard that has socked the Midwest for the past two days — the second in the past week — could combine with another hard-to-track coastal system too produce potential totals of 6 to 12 inches from a hazardous brew of snow, occasionally heavy combined with sleet and some freezing rain, according to the NWS.

A coating of ice up to a tenth of an inch is also possible following a midnight to dawn snowfall early Wednesday that could max out at an inch per hour. If the forecast pans out, the morning commute to school and work could become treacherous.

The slow-moving weather system would ease off to a light wintry mix during the daytime on Wednesday but then change back to snow after dark with a few more inches piling up.

East winds from 15 to 25 miles per hour, gusting at times to 40, could reduce visibility and combine with the heavy, wet snow to produce scattered power blackouts, the winter storm watch indicated.

Once again, the valleys would see a lighter snowfall — 4 to 7 inches — while the higher elevations of the Berkshires could end up with a blanket of nearly a foot, according to NWS meteorologist Hugh Johnson’s Tuesday morning outlook.

Commercial forecasters such as, the Weather Channel and Weather Underground were taking a lower-key approach, suggesting no more than 3 to 6 inches of snow for western Massachusetts.

By early Tuesday evening, depending on the evolution of the Midwest blizzard and its coastal cousin, the government forecasters will decide whether to upgrade the watch to a winter storm warning, or whether to downgrade the impact. Either way, it’s unlikely that the region will escape entirely scot-free this time.

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