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March roars but doesn't bite

April 01, 1997

By JENNYLYNN BROWN

Staff Writer

March went out like a lion Monday as gusting winds roared through the Tri-State area.

Wind gusts reached a high of 43 mph in Hagerstown at 12:48 p.m. Monday.

In Clear Spring, winds hit a peak of 75 mph at 2:30 p.m.

"March and April are windy months," said Andy Woodcock, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "When it's changing from cold winter air to warm spring air, something's got to give."

Monday's National Weather Service figures for the area logged wind gusts at 30 mph to 40 mph for much of the day.

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The strong air flow kept Washington County sheriff's deputies busy checking alarms set off by the wind, police said Monday evening.

Frederick County (Md.) Emergency Services received numerous calls about trees and wires downed by the wind, a dispatcher said.

No injuries were reported in any of the incidents, he said.

If there were any power outages, they did not last long, he said.

Woodcock said that low pressure over Pennsylvania that was moving to the Atlantic Ocean caused a pressure gradient - and the high winds.

"It's like a car in neutral on a steep slope with no brakes," Woodcock said. "The steeper the slope, the faster the car goes down the hill."

In this case, he said, a low-pressure area corresponds to a steep slope, and the winds pick up speed.

In Washington, D.C., winds sped to more than 50 mph, he said. Generally, people start finding it hard to stand up in winds of 70 mph or more, he said.

Forecasters said it would be breezy today, with winds between 20 mph and 25 mph. By Wednesday, winds should be much lighter, Woodcock said.

The temperature was 35 degrees at 5 p.m., and the wind chill was 22 degrees.

At 8 p.m., Washington County Emergency Services had received no reports of injuries caused by the high wind speed.

Staff Writer Kerry Lynn Fraley contributed to this story.

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