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DNR may lift burning ban

December 09, 1998|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials will decide today whether a burning ban will remain in effect across the state or be lifted in some counties.

The burning ban, which went into effect Nov. 26, prohibits open burning near wooded areas and in state parks and other public woodlands.

Rain fell across most of the state over the past two days, but in varying amounts, according to John Surrick, DNR public communications officer.

Surrick said Eric Schwaab, of DNR's forest and wildlife division, Forester Alan Zentz and others will make the decision.

"They will confer and assess how much rain we've had, the drought index and the manpower situation," he said.

When the ban went into effect, Rick Lillard, DNR regional fire manager, said it would not be lifted until the area received at least an inch of rain.

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So far this month, .26 inches of rain has fallen in Washington County, according to information on the Web site of Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

In November, .62 inches of rain fell in Washington County. In October, rainfall was 1.71 inches.

So far this year, Washington County has received 42.04 inches of precipitation, more than 1997's total of 40.03 inches and 1995's total of 35.77 inches.

A record amount of precipitation - 76.66 inches - fell in 1996, according to Keefer.

Most of Washington County's precipitation came in the first five months of 1998. A total of 27.99 inches fell from January through May, while 14.05 inches of rain fell from June through December.

The short rain that began Monday evening and continued Tuesday will be the last rain that will fall in the area for a while, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Partly sunny skies are predicted for today through Saturday, with highs in the 50s. Lows will be in the 30s.

This week's rain was caused by a cold front that drifted over the state, said meteorologist Dewey Walston.

"There has been a change from real warm weather to more seasonable as a cold front lingers over the area. It's a transition from warm and wet to cold and dry," he said.

Walston said he was unsure when the next cold front is expected to move into Washington County.

"The whole state received a little bit of rain. It was steady, gentle, soaking rain. But it wasn't enough to alleviate the drought," he said.

He said 2 to 3 inches of precipitation is needed for that.

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