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Snowstorm closes schools, shops

This metal dinosaur is stuck in the snow outside Memorial Hall Museum in Old Deerfield on Thursday.  
Recorder/Paul Franz

This metal dinosaur is stuck in the snow outside Memorial Hall Museum in Old Deerfield on Thursday. Recorder/Paul Franz

By the time you read this, it may have stopped snowing.

Maybe.

When it does stop snowing, the hilltowns could be covered in as much as 18 inches of snow, with about 12 inches forecast for Greenfield and valley towns. More is expected today, in the form of flurries, and Saturday’s forecast calls for periods of snow in the morning, afternoon and evening.

The forecast Wednesday was enough for every public school in the county to announce Thursday closings the previous night, and many state offices did likewise.

Schoolchildren and state workers weren’t the only ones who took a snow day.

After an afternoon walk through downtown Greenfield, it seemed as if the mayor had closed the entire town.

More businesses were closed than open, with restaurants, jewelers, banks, bookstores, nail salons and even the local tattoo parlor locked up tight.

One with better tracking skills than I could have told you just how long they’d been closed, based on the snow filling in the footprints that led from shuttered storefronts into the great unknown. Some appeared not to have bothered opening at all Thursday. With so little foot traffic downtown, some may have saved money by doing so.

The storm didn’t stop people from taking to the roads — at least not all of them.

In between the plows, sanders and pickups hauling snowblowers were scattered sedans, hatchbacks and other passenger cars, some presumably headed home after early office closings.

While some took their time, carefully navigating the snowy streets, other, less patient drivers behind them tailgated, blasted their horns and probably muttered a few choice words into their steering wheels.

Then, of course, there were people who were happy to head out into the snowstorm.

A jacked-up Chevy pickup fishtailed up Wells Street, power-slid around the corner onto Main, spraying snow and belching black diesel smoke as the grinning driver gunned the engine and spun his tires. He was having such a good time playing in the snow that he didn’t seem to notice, or care, that one of his shock absorbers had broken loose and was dragging behind him.

Though roads were slick with snow throughout the day, area dispatchers said Thursday evening that there had been no major accidents, just a handful of cars off the road and stuck in snow.

The snow is expected to stop falling in time for the morning commute, but it’s going to take a while to clean up after the storm. The forecast called for the snow to switch to freezing rain and back three times in the late evening and pre-dawn hours. If that holds true, it will likely make for some treacherous road conditions.

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