First major winter storm spares region the worst

  • Saturday’s snowstorm, while not as severe as originally forecast, forced the cancellation of events and closure of businesses around the region. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Saturday’s snowstorm was not as severe as originally anticipated but still slowed down the city of Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Carolyn Buckley and Jackie Scott shovel their sidewalk and driveway in Greenfield early Saturday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Cameron Kaufman and Katy Perry, both Greenfield residents, take advantage of the freshly fallen snow on Mountain Road. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • A brave soul walks along Conway Street in Greenfield during Saturday’s snowstorm. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 1/29/2022 5:33:03 PM

GREENFIELD — While the country’s attention was focused on blizzard conditions unleashing 2 feet of snow in Boston and on Cape Cod, the first major winter storm of the season seemed to spare Franklin County and the North Quabbin region from the worst of it.

“The western edge of Massachusetts is missing out on the heaviest snowfall totals,” Rob Megnia, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said on Saturday. “I wouldn’t expect a whole lot more out that way.”

Snow fell throughout most of the day in Greenfield, but the most extreme conditions resulted not from the winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service, but from the bitter cold, as the high daytime temperature topped out at a frigid 18 degrees with a negative windchill, according to data available from the service’s Saturday afternoon forecast.

Megnia said early Saturday afternoon that he was expecting an additional 1 to 3 inches of snow through the evening and for the storm to drop only a total of around 3 to 5 inches. He explained that earlier forecasts in the week could not pinpoint the exact path the storm was going to take and that there is a “really rapid drop-off” in snow totals moving from east to west.

“The farther west you go, the faster the snowfall totals drop,” Megnia said. “As of right now, it could end up being a little lower than forecast. … There’s definitely a lot more uncertainty in the western areas.”

As of Saturday afternoon, a drive around Greenfield showed at least a couple inches of snow on the ground.

Greenfield Department of Public Works Director Marlo Warner II said the roads were in good condition and the plows would hit the road around 5 p.m. because the pre-treatment worked so well.

“We pre-treated overnight, it seems to be holding well,” Warner said around 3 p.m. “We won’t have to plow twice for this storm.”

Warner said it wasn’t “straightforward” planning with the storm because of the rapidly changing forecast, but he was glad to see it be mostly snow, which is easier to treat than ice.

“We start storm planning anything over 4 to 6 inches. We had been planning all week to prepare for the worst,” Warner said. “You definitely change gears.”

He said he had been on the road and while there was some minor accumulation, roads were in good condition.

“Obviously you take it easy and can’t speed around,” he said.

In Athol, Department of Public Works Superintendent Dick Kilhart said he had crews out early Saturday morning maintaining roads.

“The forecast for us … has been all over the place,” Kilhart said Saturday afternoon. “We’re holding steady. At this point it’s trying to maintain what we can and move it along.”

Kilhart said he would be keeping staff out and about until the storm pulls “out of here after dark.”

“People can feel confident it will be cleaned up and wrapped up,” Kilhart said. “We’re in good shape.”

Regardless, Kilhart said there could be a “new set of challenges” that will present themselves when temperatures climb into the 50s later in the week and melt the snow.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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