Showers don't show in April

April 26, 1997


Staff Writer

If May flowers are dependent on April showers, Washington County florists could be in trouble.

This month is on the pace to be one of the driest Aprils in history, according to weather officials.

As of Friday, the county had received 1.08 inches of rain this month with .31 inches on Friday alone. If no rain fell the rest of the month, it would rank as the third driest in history, Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer said. The all-time low, .20 inches, was set in 1985.

But Keefer said he has learned over the years not to count records prematurely.

"As you know, anything can happen with the weather," he said. "We can get it all in one thunderstorm."

National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Hitchens said the county could get some sprinkles this weekend, with a chance of heavier rain on Monday.


The nation's capital has been dry, too. Hitchens said rainfall at National Airport is running more than a half-inch below normal for the year and about inch below average for April.

"Mostly April," he said.

Locally, the disparity is even greater. Keefer said average rainfall for April is 3.17 inches. The county has gotten 10.64 inches of rain since Jan. 1, compared with an average of 11.22 inches by the end of April.

This year is all the more dramatic next to last year's rainfall. By the end of April last year, rain totaled 17.33 inches.

After last year, this year's lack of rain has been a blessing for farmers, so far, said Don Schwartz, Washington County's agriculture extension agent.

"The dryness has really been beneficial," Schwartz said. It has allowed farmers to get some early field work done.

Several thousand acres of farmland in Washington County never were planted last year because the ground was too wet, he said.

But farmers will need at least an inch of rain a week starting May 1 as the growing season starts, Schwartz said.

"Last year, we had too much and this year we're talking about not enough already," Keefer said.

It's the temperature that bothers Keefer the most, though.

"I just wish it would warm up," he said. "We had 80 degrees in winter and now we can't even get 80 degrees in spring. It's crazy."

Staff Writer Julie Greene contributed to this story.

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