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Heat wave continues in Washington County

July 31, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Bob Ruszkiewicz enjoyed a cool breeze as he sat on a shaded bench watching his son, Joseph, swimming in the pool at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Park Friday afternoon.

"Kind of beat the heat," said Ruszkiewicz, 55, of Clear Spring, who said he's become a fixture at the pool on these hot days of summer.

It was a hot one again on Friday, hitting 99 degrees in Hagerstown in the afternoon, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

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According to Keefer's records, it was the 22nd day this July that the thermometer rose to 90 degrees or above - a new record.

The old record was 20 days, claimed by three years - 1934, 1955 and 1966, according to Keefer.

The hottest day was July 6, when it hit 100 degrees and tied a record for that date set in 1977, according to Keefer.

While there have been no other 100-degree days, the second half of the month has seen a stretch of scorchers.

Since July 15, it has gone up to at least 90 degrees all but one day, July 21, when the high temperature was 89 degrees, according to Keefer's records.

It also has been a very dry July, with just 1.15 inches of rain, according to his records.

On Thursday, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening declared a statewide drought emergency and called on residents to voluntarily cut back on water use.

The restrictions, including not watering lawns, washing cars or taking long showers, could lead to mandatory restrictions by next week, when a committee of state officials will make its recommendations.

On Friday, the City of Hagerstown Water Department echoed the governor's conservation request and announced it is doing its part by suspending the annual fire hydrant flushing program until conditions improve, according to a press release.

While the city's water supply has been adequate to date and conditions are not expected to become critical, Hagerstown relies on the Potomac River for its water needs and drawing river water is regulated by the State of Maryland, according to the release.

She doesn't have a lawn to water and doesn't wash cars, so Hagerstown resident Mary Mills said the restrictions mean denying herself the treat of taking baths for a while.

"It affects everyone some way," said Mills, 57, who said she'll probably miss those baths. "But I guess I'll survive."

Williamsport resident Evelyn Christy said she doesn't mind doing what is necessary to help out in the water conservation effort.

The drought has actually saved her husband some work this summer, said Christy, 32. He hasn't had to mow the grass so much.

They don't have a garden or flowers to worry about, she said.

As for the heat, Christy said they've had to run the air conditioning more this summer.

And their children, ages 3, 4 and 6, haven't been spending as much time outside, she said.

That's one reason why she and the children been going to the Snook Park pool a lot lately, Christy said.

Like his father, Joseph Ruszkiewicz, 10, said the pool has helped him cope with the heat.

"It's been bothering me a little bit," he said. "Keeps me cool and gives me exercise."

A lot of people seem to agree, said pool manager Bob Myers, who said July - usually the busiest month - has been busier than usual.

While the heat seems to help business, the drought could hurt if it means mandatory water restrictions, Myers said.

"If they do a ban on filling swimming pools, that will affect us," he said.

The National Weather Service is forecasting high temperatures in the middle-to-upper 90s through the weekend, with slightly cooler temperatures next week.

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