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Snow, wind set to hammer area

February 03, 1998

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer

Forecasters expected Tri-State area residents to find a couple of inches of snow on the ground this morning, and said accumulation could reach a foot by the end of the day, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.

The winter storm is expected to be accompanied by wind gusts of up to 60 mph and the extended forecast calls for wind the rest of the week, said Chris Strong, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

"It's going to be windy right through the storm. There's a big whirlpool of fast-moving air," he said.

Although temperatures will hover around the freezing mark, the area is expected to get mostly snow, possibly mixed with some sleet, during the day, Strong said.

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Snow is expected to taper off tonight but the storm may end with some sleet as temperatures drop to the upper 20s.

A winter storm warning was issued late Tuesday afternoon covering Washington County and west in Maryland, Fulton and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania, and West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle.

The warning put Tri-State area road crews on alert and a snow emergency was declared in Waynesboro, Pa., at midnight.

"They're prepared for the duration," said Diane Michael, a shop administrator at the Hagerstown Maintenance Complex of the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Maryland state road crews were called to report to work at midnight to run the 24 dump trucks attached to plows and loaded with salt. The 31 hired snow removal contractors in the area were put on standby, Michael said.

State road crews in West Virginia and Pennsylvania also were scheduled to report to work at midnight.

"It looks like we could get a substantial amount of snow ... But we're ready to go," said Vernon Gladden, operator at the Highways Division of the West Virginia Department of Transportation in Martinsburg.

Amid reports that the area could get 8 to 12 inches of snow, the trucks in Hagerstown were loaded with salt Tuesday, said Doug Stull, public works manager.

Waynesboro, Pa., Mayor Louis Barlup announced a snow emergency in the borough at 8 p.m. Tuesday to give people the opportunity to move their vehicles before the snow began to fall, he said.

"We want to be ready for it when it comes," Barlup said.

A snow emergency in Waynesboro means vehicles parked on Main Street between Clayton Avenue and Fairview Avenue, and on South Potomac Street from West Main Street to Second Street must be removed or be subject to a fine and possible towing at the cost of the owner.

In response to the forecast, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency issued a release Tuesday night urging residents to monitor the progress of the storm closely, particularly those who live in areas that could experience flooding or high winds.

The storm, approaching the area from the southeast and moving up the coast, was difficult to track because it is slow-moving and the outcome is tough to call since temperatures fluctuate, said John LaCorte, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in State College, Pa.

While Western Maryland and Southcentral Pennsylvania likely will see snow, points east are expected to get large amounts of rain with the storm.

Maryland's Eastern Shore could get hit with winds gusting to 70 mph and heavy surf throughout the storm, according to the National Weather Service.

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