NORTH ADAMS -- With predictions of anywhere from 12 to 25 inches of snow falling between Friday and today, Berkshire residents were staying off the roads Friday night as the snow began to fall.
However, the Bay State isn't unfamiliar with blizzards and nor'easters dumping 2 to 3 feet of snow over a period of two days.
The last major storm to pummel the state happened just two years ago, when 33 inches of snow fell on the city on between Jan. 11 and 12, 2011.
"We had a total of 58 inches for the month of January that year, with 33 inches falling in just two days," John Hockridge, owner of New England Weather Associates, said Friday. "During that storm we had 3 to 4 inches of snowfall an hour. It's the highest total snow accumulation we've had for as storm since we began keeping records in 1973."
But the highest total snowfall came in March 1888, when "The Blizzard of 1888" brought 37 inches of snow to the city. That snowfall, although the standing record, was miniscule compared to other areas -- Albany, N.Y. recorded 48 inches of snow, while parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York received 40 to 50 inches of snow from March 11 to March 14. The blizzard not only brought snow, but also winds of over 45 miles per hour. The snowfall shut down railroads, piling up drifts in excess of 50 feet and pinning people in their homes for up to a week.
While the Blizzard of 1978 is remembered for snowfall totals of 27.1 inches in Boston and 40 inches in Rhode Island, the storm's performance in the Berkshires was meager, with only about 16.5 inches of snow arriving in the city from Feb. 6 to 7.
"It was pretty horrible," Hockridge said. "It paralyzed Boston and 3,500 cars were stranded on Interstate 95. People died in their cars from asphyxiation from the fumes. Some 2,500 homes were lost and there were 111 mile per hour winds."
Over the last 37 years that Hockridge has been keeping records, of the top 10 snowfall totals he's recorded, all have had totals of 20.3 inches or more and five have occurred since 2001.
The list also includes only one storm that happened between 1973 and 1992. That storm, which occurred over three days, from April 3-6, 1975, brought a total of 20.5 inches to the city.
"Nor'easters are fairly common in New England, but this current story isn't typical. It's one of the larger ones, which can bring 2 or more feet of snow. Typically, a nor'easter brings 6 inches to 1 and a half feet," Hockridge said. "In general, the blizzard is going to bring 1 to 2 feet to our area. I think we'll see closer to a foot in Northern Berkshire."
He said the amount of snowfall will depend on which part of the storm reaches the Berkshires.
"When a storm gets this big, there are spiral bands within it where snow can fall at a rate of 1 to 3 inches per hour," he said. "It all depends on which part of the storm is over us and how long a location is under one of the spiral bands that are going to determine how much snow accumulates."
While Hockridge's records only go back to 1973, the Transcript's archives include several other major snowfalls over the last several decades including storms in February 1969 that dumped 20 inches of snow on Northern Berkshire and a series of storms later that year, between Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, that left a total of 30.1 inches in their wake.
On Thanksgiving Day in 1971, North Berkshire residents weren't to happy to celebrate with snow that ranged from just over 18 inches to 24 inches.