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Tri-State spared from Floyd's fury

September 16, 1999

Floyd fizzlesBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photos: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




Schools closed, parks shut down and fire departments and Maryland State Police brought in extra staff to help battle Tropical Storm Floyd, but Floyd fizzled out.

Early forecasts predicted the storm would pack winds with gusts of up to 50 mph and drop up to 5 inches of rain when it hit Hagerstown, but that didn't happen.

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Washington County was spared the brunt of Floyd because the storm traveled farther to the east than forecasters had anticipated, said meteorologist Jim Travers.

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"Count your blessings," he said.

Although downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it reached Washington County, Floyd pummeled Maryland's Eastern Shore with 70 mph winds and flooding conditions, Travers said.

Rain began falling in the Hagerstown area on Wednesday evening, and between 1.10 inches and 1.47 inches fell by Thursday morning.

On Thursday, the rain continued, accompanied by moderate winds.

About 1.48 inches of rain fell in Hagerstown Thursday, and winds reached a maximum of 32 miles per hour, according to Hagerstown Weather Observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

fallen branchesThe National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., recorded 2.13 inches of rain Thursday for Hagerstown and 1.5 inches for Williamsport, 1.64 inches for Smithsburg and 2.12 inches in Boonsboro.

About 5.59 inches of rain has been recorded this month and 31.56 inches have fallen since January, said Keefer.

He lists the average precipitation for that period as 28.64 inches.

Thursday's high reached 60 degrees but weather through Sunday is expected to be 10 degrees higher with sunny skies, said Travers.

In the shadow of Tropical Storm Floyd is another storm - Gert, which forecasters are watching closely, said Travers.

Gert, which has the potential to become a Hurricane, was lingering near Bermuda on Thursday, he said.

Expecting the worst, Maryland State Police said Wednesday it would have extra patrols on throughout the state as Floyd passed through. The Hagerstown barracks had no reports of accidents from the storm or of flooding.

Hagerstown City Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Department reportedly had a quiet day as well.

The storm caused The Maryland Department of Natural Resources to close down all state parks east of Allegany County and the Washington County Board of Education canceled classes on Thursday. Schools were to reopen today, according to the Washington County Board of Education Web site.

In one storm-related incident, a Cyprus tree limb broke off, ripped a storm drainpipe from a home at 712 N. Ave. owned by Rose Cloughey and fell on a Grand Am at about 3 p.m.

The Longmeadow Fire Department was called. No injuries were reported.

Halfway and Smithsburg fire departments had extra volunteers and staff scheduled in case Floyd got out of hand.

A few volunteers at Smithsburg used their vacation days so they could help staff the station Thursday, said Lt. Sam Ginn.

Fire companies throughout Washington County said they hadn't received any calls about flash flooding and didn't have to pump out any basements.

Anticipating a busy day, Allegheny Energy scheduled extra line crews but they weren't needed, said spokesman Guy Fletcher.

He said there were no power outages in Washington County on Thursday.

"We were prepared for the worst-case scenario but it never happened," he said.

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