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Deluge expected here from hurricane

September 14, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Forecasters are predicting Hurricane Floyd will lose some steam by the time it reaches Washington County on Thursday but the storm will still pack a punch.

"If it maintains its course and speed we can expect winds around 40 to 50 mph with even stronger gusts," said Jim Travers, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

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With the winds will come rain, at least 3 inches and most likely more, Travers said.

By the time Floyd hits Maryland it probably will have been downgraded to a tropical storm, he said.

On Tuesday, authorities urged nearly 2 million people to evacuate coastal areas from Florida to North Carolina as Floyd made its way through the Bahamas packing heavy rains and 150 mph winds.

Travers said the storm will pummel Hagerstown during the day Thursday and into the night.

"When a tropical storm hits a populated area like Washington County it can cause tremendous disruption," he said.

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Heavy winds could knock down trees and damage power lines and flash flooding is predicted, according to Travers.

Homeowners should take precautions, such as tying down or taking inside items that could be blown around, he said.

Temperatures on Thursday will be in the mid-70s, he said.

"Friday will be cleanup day," with sunny skies and mild temperatures predicted, Travers said.

The rain that will accompany Floyd may help ease drought conditions in some areas, he said.

"There is a silver lining to all this. The rain from the tropical storm, combined with the rain that has already fallen this month should bring some relief," according to Travers.

Washington County has received 3.01 inches of rain this month. This year's precipitation of 28.98 inches to date has surpassed the average of 28.64 inches from January through September, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

Allegheny Power officials said they are doing what they can to prepare for the impending storm.

Regular maintenance performed by the utility, such as keeping trees trimmed and away from power lines, will help, said spokesman Allen Staggers.

Allegheny Power will have supplies and vehicles ready in case problems arise, he said.

"Our linemen are on call anyway but there is no way to predict where and when (line crews) will be needed. We'll just have to watch and wait," Staggers said.

He said Allegheny Power has been in contact with other power companies to discuss a mutual aid exchange of line crews should there be a large number of power outages.

Officials at Washington County Regional Airport were paying close attention to weather reports, spokeswoman Carolyn Motz said.

She said it will be up to individual pilots will determine whether they will cancel flight plans in the event of extreme weather, she said.

The expected 40 to 50 mph winds "should get their attention," she said.

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