An unseasonably strong surge of Arctic air will cause temperatures to plummet, snowflakes to fly and winds to howl over the next few days in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont.
The reminder that April can fool us all, not only on the first day of the month, will feel especially harsh following near-record warmth that saw a high of 70 on Friday at Pittsfield Municipal Airport (the record was 73 in 1967), 71 in North Adams and 72 in Bennington, Vt.
"Late February-type air will pour into the region on very strong north winds Sunday," according to Warren Snyder at the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y. His forecast calls for 2 to 4 inches on the ground in western New England by Sunday morning, with another moderate snowfall likely Sunday night into Monday as temperatures remain far below normal.
Although the wintry weather may seem unusual, AccuWeather.com meteorologist Alex Sosnowski pointed out that "April is typically a battleground between winter and spring. Drastic temperature swings are common as warm spells can quickly be erased by Arctic air diving to the south. As is typical of April, there may be a back-and-forth fight going on in the atmosphere for a time."
The leading edge of the polar air mass pushed into the region gradually on Saturday, along with a batch of snow expected to continue for a few hours before winding down on Sunday morning.
Since the ground is warm, accumulating snow is most likely on non-paved and grassy surfaces, but roads could be slippery for a while as early morning temperatures bottom out in the low 20's and remain below freezing all day Sunday, when thousands of pilgrims are expected to flock to the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge for the annual Divine Mercy Sunday celebration.
Northwest winds will kick up after dawn, with a wind advisory in effect until 5 p.m. Sunday. Gusts could reach 50 miles an hour, while sustained winds range between 15 and 25 mph, causing downed tree limbs and possible power problems, the government forecast stated. The worst should be over by sunset.
From Sunday into mid-week, temperatures will be 15 to 20 degrees below normal in western New England, similar to late February conditions. Lows on Monday night are expected to fall to 17 degrees on average, remain below freezing on Tuesday and bottom out around 12 degrees on Tuesday night.
A second round of snowfall is due on Monday morning, though forecasters were not pinpointing how much beyond describing it as moderate.
Several Major League Baseball season openers on Monday will be played in chilly conditions, notably the Red Sox in Cleveland, where the game against the Indians begins at 4:10 p.m.
By Wednesday, temperatures should approach near normal levels for early April, ranging from around 30 to near 50. But long-range forecasts from AccuWeather indicate sustained spring warmth is unlikely until mid-month.
Contact Clarence Fanto at 413-637-2551.