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Record warmth affects businesses

December 01, 1998|By SCOTT BUTKI

Unusually warm weather across the Tri-State area over the past three days has shattered records and affected some businesses.

Temperature records were broken in Hagerstown on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, said Greg Keefer, a Hagerstown weather observer.

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Saturday's high reached 72 degrees, breaking the Nov. 28 record of 69 set in 1990, Keefer said.

On Sunday, the temperature climbed to 74 degrees, beating the Nov. 29 record of 70 degrees set in 1990, he said.

Monday's high temperature was 72 degrees. The previous record for Nov. 30 was 70 degrees, set back in 1933, according to Keefer.


High temperatures were expected to remain in the mid-60s for the rest of the week, he said.

It isn't clear why the region is experiencing such unseasonably high temperatures, he said.

Play it Again Sports in Hagerstown is feeling the effects of the warm weather, said Tom Hoffman, the company's marketing director.

By late November, the used sporting goods store usually sees an increase in sales of indoor exercise equipment, he said. This year, however, it's warm enough for people to keep exercising outdoors, he said.

In addition, the store has not had the boom in sales of snowboards and ski equipment that is usual for this time of year, Hoffman said.

Despite the warm weather, Whitetail Ski Resort officials expect to open for skiing by mid-December, said spokeswoman Rachel Nichols.

Whitetail's budget projections are prepared on the assumption that the resort near Mercersburg, Pa., will offer skiing by about Dec. 15, she said. The latest the slopes have opened was Dec. 21, she said.

Due to a warm winter last year, Whitetail's slopes were open on about 70 days, compared with more than 100 days in an average season. It also was the first year the resort did not turn an operating profit, according to resort officials.

Randy Eigenbrode, co-owner of Keystone Sporting Goods in Fort Loudon, Pa., said the warm weather has been bad for business. He said that fewer people were buying heavy clothing as they bought their gear for deer hunting season.

Deer hunting season began Monday in Pennsylvania and Saturday in Maryland.

Some hunters joked about buying orange T-shirts instead of warm jackets, Eigenbrode said. While some hunters might buy warmer outfits later in the season, that won't make up for the financial hit the store is taking now, he said.

The weather probably will affect hunting, too, he said.

"It affects the deer in that they don't move," he said.

Often, the movement of hunters prompts deer to move, he said. However, because of the warm weather, the deer will be less active and the hunters will be too hot to move around much, he said.

Eigenbrode predicted the result would be that hunters would bag fewer deer, at least until the weather turns colder, he said.

Rods and clubs

Not all sports equipment stores were suffering.

Spark's Sports Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., was selling more fishing gear than usual for this time of year, said Dick Pharr, store manager. He attributed the increase to the warm weather.

The store was selling plenty of warm clothing, too, he said. Although it's warmer than usual during the day, it is cold in the evenings and mornings, he said.

And warm clothing continues to be a popular Christmas present for hunters, he said.

"Everybody knows this weather is a fluke," he said.

Golfers have been taking advantage of the warm November weather. More golfers than usual for November have been on the links, said Darrell Whittington, the golf professional at Black Rock Golf Course.

Robert DeMartino, manager of the Wal-Mart in Hagerstown, said sales at the store have been brisk on all items, including warm jackets. People began buying heavier jackets during last month's cold snap and continue to do so, he said.

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