Stormy Monday in the Berkshires: Icy travel, high winds and power outages

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High winds, icy precipitation and heavy downpours challenged motorists and left nearly 2,500 Berkshire homes and business in the dark at any one time on Monday.

Wind gusts nearing 50 mph in some spots brought down numerous trees and limbs, sporadically knocking out electricity service across the Berkshires. At one point, Eversource reported more than 200 customers in Pittsfield, Lee, Tyringham and Windsor, according to utility the utility's website.

"Crews spent all day in the Pittsfield area as winds topping 45 mph brought down trees and limbs on our lines," spokesman Frank Poirot said in an email to The Eagle. "We brought extra tree crews into the area to work closely with line crews and speed the restoration."

All service was restored by early evening as the high winds diminished before dark, according to the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y.

Meteorologist Brian Furgis noted the highest reported wind gusts came from North Adams and Adams with speeds of 49 and 48 mph, respectively.

National Grid customers were hit the hardest by the mixed bag of severe weather. Berkshire County's other electricity provider reported 2,200 power outages by early afternoon, primarily in North Berkshire, Great Barrington and New Marlborough.

By 8 p.m., that number dropped to about 700, according to utility spokesman Bob Kievra. He expected the last of the customers to be back online come midnight Monday.

"These are house to house outages and it takes time," he said.

Mother Nature challenged motorists with slippery conditions Monday morning due to sleet and freezing rain. By lunchtime, slowly rising temperatures had changed the icy misery to wind-swept downpours, reducing visibility.

Icy conditions were blamed for a three-vehicle crash on Route 9 in Windsor, about two miles east of the Dalton town line.

A DHL transit van was trying to pass a tractor-trailer — both vehicles were heading east in the climbing lanes — about 10:40 a.m. when the van slid across the center line into the path of a Toyota, according to Windsor Police Chief Thomas Barnaby. While trying to avoid the van, the driver of the oncoming Toyota spun out of control and struck the rear of the tractor-trailer, severing its brake line. No one was hurt, Barnaby said, but the van and Toyota were towed from the scene. The tractor trailer was repaired before it continued on.

The worst of the storm blew out of the Berkshires by late afternoon, but left behind the unseasonably cool weather for the rest of the work week.

Forecasters expect rain and/or snow showers and daytime highs in the low to mid-40s into Friday.

"We're in a cool pattern, typical of winter, with storms moving through and cold air behind them," Furgis noted.

The good news, he added, Saturday and Sunday could be — wait for it — mostly sunny and in the 50s.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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