Snow arrives, but freezing rain takes over

  • Workers clear snow from the sidewalk in front of the Franklin County Justice Center in Greenfield on Wednesday. February 7, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—

  • A sidewalk is cleared by the picnic area at Cumberland Farms on Federal Street in Greenfield on Wednesday. February 7, 2018 Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—

  • A motorist stopped at the lights on Bank Row in Greenfield Tuesday clears snow from their wipers while seemingly being mocked by a photograph that was clearly taken in a much warmer environment. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • The Montague Department of Public Works was out early in the snow fall on Avenue A in Turners Falls Wednesday morning. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Jasmine Perezis dusted with snow Wednesday morning as she walks home across the 11th Street Bridge on her way to The Patch section of Turners Falls where she lives. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

While students across the county woke up to a day off from school Wednesday, other residents woke up to fairly clear roads and no precipitation for hours into the morning.

An early forecast of up to a foot of snow didn’t come true, according to the National Weather Service, but slick road conditions were the story of the day as snowfall turned into freezing rain, creating a hard icy layer over powdery snow.

Across the Franklin County region, police departments reported minor fender benders but no serious accidents: Greenfield had a few incidents; State Police from the Shelburne Barracks said there were a few spin-outs; Montague didn’t report any incidents, and neither did Athol and the North Quabbin area.

Four to 6 inches of snow were projected, according to Meteorologist Lenore Correia from the National Weather Service’s Taunton bureau. By the end of the day, weather spotters reported snowfall totals of about 4 inches in Greenfield, Turners Falls, Leyden, Northfield and Whately and in some of Worcester County.

The snow began to fall around 10 a.m. and continued into the early afternoon. Roads were slick, and driving precarious. Gradually, snow turned into freezing rain as warmer air blew into central and western Massachusetts, taking complete command close to 4 p.m. and continuing into the night.

“This one traveled right over southern New England, so we had some warmer air moving in — where that rain and snow line sets up is the indicator of who gets the snow, and how much,” said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Taunton Office.

“The snowfall totals we knew were going to be heaviest north and west, and we were pretty confident about the rain over the Cape and islands. It was that area in between that was most concerning because of freezing rain,” Buttrick said.

Greenfield’s Department of Public Works treated roads earlier in the day, and the freezing rain prompted later treatments, director Donald Ouellette said.

Overall, this winter has posed some challenges for the public works department because it’s been an icy — though not especially snowy — winter. Ouellette said he has about 30 percent of his snow budget left, after having to salt the roads over and over again, particularly during the extreme cold snap.

On Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and forecasted six more weeks to winter.

“We’re hoping that the groundhog was wrong and we get out of winter soon,” Ouellette said.