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Snowmobilers, skiers rejoice

A heavy-duty snow thrower clears the sidewalk down the Third Street hill in Turners Falls on Wednesday during the storm.  
  Recorder/Paul Franz

A heavy-duty snow thrower clears the sidewalk down the Third Street hill in Turners Falls on Wednesday during the storm. Recorder/Paul Franz

While many people lamented the wet, heavy snowstorm on Wednesday with shovels and salt in their hands, snowmobilers across Franklin County rejoiced, hoping to rev their engines across hundreds of miles of white-blanketed trails this weekend.

With only a couple months left to the snowmobile season, the snowstorm saved what was so far a dismal sledding season in Franklin County.

“This will go a long ways towards making it ridable around here,” said Tim Pydych, owner of Ray’s Cycle Center in Greenfield and member of the Bernardston-Gill-Leyden Snowmobile Club. “We’ve been hoping for more snow.”

By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, snowfall totalled 9.5 inches in Greenfield and 7 inches in Shelburne, Leyden and Heath according to the National Weather Service.

The snowstorm was one of the most significant snowfalls this winter, but it was nothing out of the ordinary, according to the National Weather Service.

In early December, a light snow of 8 to 9 inches blanketed Franklin County. It had caused little damage and no accidents. In January, another 10 inches of a light fluffy mix fell onto the county. A third snowfall in mid-January brought between 2 and 5 inches.

Another wintry mix may arrive around Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, a high pressure will build, bringing colder-than-average temperatures this weekend.

“There will maybe be a system Sunday into Monday, but it’s too early to tell right now,” Dunham said.

Snowmobilers have their fingers crossed that the weather prediction holds true. By the time the weekend comes, trails will be groomed and ready for riding.

“There’s hasn’t been really any snowmobiling in our area,” said Paul Sokoloski, member of the Conway Snowmobile Club. “Now we’re in a nice-looking weather pattern.”

If it’s cold enough, the snow will stick around for awhile, making trails good for sledding.

Skiers were also excited about the snow. At Berkshire East in Charlemont, people grabbed their skis and boots and slid down the powdery slopes.

Owner of Stump Sprouts cross country ski area in Hawley, Suzanne Crawford said she is delighted.

“It was a slow start to the winter,” Crawford said. “It hasn’t been the greatest. We’re looking forward to having good conditions.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, the wet, heavy mix did not cause many serious accidents in Franklin County as many people stayed home from work and off the roads. All of the school districts announced closings before the weather started Tuesday night.

In South Deerfield, the animal control officer had a minor spin-off in his vehicle early in the morning, but there were no injuries, according to Deerfield Police.

Sgt. Harry Ruddock said the roads were slick and slippery, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.

In Whately, state police in the Northampton said, there were two minor single-car accidents as cars slid into snowbanks along the median on Interstate 91 early in the morning, but there were no injuries or vehicular damage.

Public works trucks and plows did not get to work until 7 a.m.

In Ashfield, Highway Superintendent Tom Poissant said the roads weren’t bad as of noontime. His department sent out seven trucks to clear the roads by the evening commute.

“It was nothing we’re not used to,” Poissant said. “It’s the biggest storm so far, but it’s quite manageable.”

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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