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Spring weather was wet and wild

June 20, 1998

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer

Three tornadoes that accompanied a severe storm Tuesday capped the last week of this year's wet and wild spring, adding to several records set in the three-month period.

Summer officially starts at 10:03 a.m. Sunday, though record high temperatures set in March made it feel like summer's been here for a while.

In the last week of March, temperatures in the mid- toupper 80s were recorded and a temperature of 89 degrees on March 30 marked an all-time high for the month in Hagerstown, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

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Two other record high temperatures were set March 27 and March 31 at 85 degrees, and several high temperatures recorded that week tied records, Keefer said.

Temperatures in April and May reached into the 80s and 90s on a few days, even though the normal for April is 52 degrees and May is 66 degrees, Keefer said.

A total of 16.88 inches of rain fell in the Hagerstown area between March 20, the first day of spring, and Thursday, making it one of the wettest springs on record. The amount of rain left by storms that swept through the area Friday was unavailable.

Rain fell every day in the first 12 days of May, for a total of 5.34 inches in that time period, Keefer said.

Rain-soaked fields delayed planting for some crops in the area, but little damage was reported, according to the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Office.

January through April was the wettest first four months ever recorded, with 22.27 inches of rainfall, breaking the previous record set in 1994 when 18.94 inches fell, according to Keefer's weather data.

Records were set even at the end of the season, when, for the first time in Washington County's history, three tornadoes touched down on Tuesday, downing trees and electrical wires for miles.

Hagerstown's last tornado hit June 9, 1947, wreaking havoc in City Park and the southeastern section of town.

The wet and mild winter combined with the warm and rainy spring have provided perfect conditions for some bugs and misery for people who suffer from allergies to molds.

"This spring is really bad for earwigs and ants," said Lisa Barnes, spokeswoman for Home Paramount Pest Control Co. in Hagerstown.

Problems with both insects are usual in the hot, moist summer months, but they've turned up earlier this year in force because of the summer-like conditions this spring, she said.

Employees at A1 Exterminating Services said the majority of calls they've received this spring have been requests to get rid of ants, said Stacy Miller, spokeswoman for the company.

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