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Wind chill means cold times ahead

January 17, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Thursday's high temperature may have reached a respectable 41 degrees - but wind gusts made it feel as cold as 40 degrees below zero at times.

"That's pretty strong gusts of wind,'' said Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer. He said the wind gusts reached up to 50 mph.

Keefer added that the wind chill most of the day wasn't quite so bad - averaging between 7 and 15 degrees below zero.

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Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Matt Jones felt the sting of a northern cold front Thursday afternoon while he investigated a traffic accident. "It's cold out there," he said.

And he wasn't alone in feeling the chill. "Mighty cold," Keefer agreed. "And it's going to get colder."

Those looking for a reprieve might want to stay indoors for a few days, because the National Weather Service is forecasting the deep freeze will linger in the area at least through Tuesday.

Meteorologist Richard Hitchens said an extreme high-pressure system from northern Canada is the culprit.

Today's forecast calls for highs to reach 20 degrees with a wind-chill factor making it feel as though it were 10 to 20 degrees below zero, he said.

Saturday is expected to bring scattered flurries with highs in the teens, followed by more freezing temperatures on Sunday and late flurries.

For stores that sell winter clothing, single-digit temperatures can translate to dollar signs. But not always.

"It's been too cold for people to come out," said Evelyn Parkins, manager of the McCrory store in Long Meadow Shopping Center.

But those who did brave the weather to shop were buying rock salt, shovels and other winter items, Parkins said.

From a business standpoint, Parkins said that was a welcome relief after exceedingly warm temperatures earlier in the month didn't encourage people to buy the normal winter fare.

"The weather's been great. I've loved it," she said. "But the sales have not been great for winter-type items. But lately they have picked up."

Parkins said the store normally marks winter items down in mid-January. But since the cold weather got off to such a late start, the store will wait a few more weeks, she said.

Officials at some other stores, however, said the weather has not had a great effect one way or the other.

Scott Walker, manager of the Ames Department Store off Dual Highway, said the store is running slightly ahead of last January's pace for all items. But he said he could not attribute that to a drop in temperature.

"Hats and gloves aren't walking out of the store because of the weather," he said. "It's just a normal, slow January."

Sub-freezing temperatures mean one thing to area ski resorts: snow. Even when snow isn't falling naturally, they can make their own.

Whitetail Ski Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., uses 600 gallons of water a minute to manufacture snow. Officials expect to have 16 of 17 trails open for this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

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