Not quite winter: First snow will be an inch or so

  • Off College Lane in Northampton, overlooking Paradise Pond on the campus of Smith College, early Thursday morning, Jan. 16, before an overnight dusting of snow had melted. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 10/28/2020 7:45:59 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Pioneer Valley is gearing up for its first snowfall of the season Friday, with up to an inch of accumulation expected in the Northampton area.

For those who lived in the region nine years ago, an early snowfall may evoke memories of the historic 2011 Halloween nor’easter, which brought record snowfall and widespread and lengthy power outages across the Northeast. But this time around, residents need not fear another Snowtober.

“Overall, it’s really a rain to kind of light snow, but it’s significant because it’s the first snow potential of the incoming cold season,” said local weather curator Dave Hayes, “The Weather Nut.” In the central Valley, residents can expect a coating to an inch of snow.

The hilltowns, as well as the Berkshires, southern Vermont, and possibly eastern Franklin County, will likely see more accumulation, Hayes said, with 1-3 inches forecast in higher terrains.

The storm will begin Thursday afternoon when the remnants of Hurricane Zeta, which struck the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, are predicted to bring rain to the region. On Friday morning, this rain is set to shift to snow.

Snow in late October is “not exceedingly rare, but it’s definitely uncommon,” Hayes said — particularly when that snow accumulates. More commonly, the region’s first snowfall will arrive after mid-November.

Though the accumulation is expected to be light — and not particularly notable for those familiar with New England weather — Hayes advised extra caution on the roads.

“Even with an inch of snow on the roadway, if you haven’t been driving on it in five or six months, you forget to be careful and it’s easy to get into accidents,” Hayes said.

Hazardous icy patches may also develop on Friday night into Saturday morning, when temperatures are expected to plunge to the low 20s or upper teens across Hampshire County — weather that is “exceedingly cold for this time of year” and “a little blast of winter,” according to Hayes.

This cold snap could possibly lead to icy spots on the road Friday night into Saturday morning, especially if precipitation extends later into the day.


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