Forescasters predict dry winter for area

December 21, 1998|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Today may be the first official day of winter, but dreams of a white Christmas aren't likely to come true this year.

Dry, cold weather is expected, along with partly sunny skies.

And we can expect the rest of the winter to bring less than normal precipitation and warmer temperatures, according to officials with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Last winter, the area received 13.3 inches of snow for the months of November through March. This year not a snowflake has fallen, according to Hagerstown Weather Observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

Normal temperatures for this time of year are the upper 30s. Weather for the week is expected to be party cloudy with highs in the 30s to 40s. Lows will be in the 20s, said Chris Strong, a meteorologist with the weather service.


The dry, relatively warm weather is a product of a lack of cold fronts or cold temperatures lingering over the area, he said.

While the area has seen temperatures cold enough for snow, there hasn't been a storm system here at the same time to create snow, he said.

Winter weather predictions in the Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack have so far missed the mark for the second year in a row.

The publication's weather prognosticator, Bill O'Toole, said the area faces a severe winter that will last 127 days - including 16 storms. He said the first snowstorm would hit Nov. 10 and there would be a white Christmas. The year before he predicted 49 inches of snow, but thanks to warm weather only about 13.3 inches fell.

By his calculations, 38 inches of snow will fall on the area before winter is over this year.

The weather predictions encompass a 127-day forecast period from Nov. 10, 1998, to March 16, 1999.

More on target has been the woolly bear weather predictions made by almanac woolly bear judge Frank Leiter.

Leiter predicted it would be an average to mild winter.

He said the stripes on the woolly bears indicate that the weather from Nov. 15 to Jan. 15, 1999, will be average or normal. From Jan. 16 to the end of March, he said, the woolly bears stripes suggest a very mild winter with above average temperatures and little snow.

The prediction stems from the fact that the woolly bears' front bands, representing the first half of winter, were of normal length, about one-third the length of the body.

The back band, representing the second half of winter, was significantly shorter than normal. The predictions are a result of those markings.

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