Almanack predicted Wednesday's storm

December 14, 2000

Almanack predicted Wednesday's storm

By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer

The Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack correctly predicted that the first winter weather of the season would arrive Wednesday.

But it took an e-mail message for weather prognosticator Bill O'Toole to realize it.

"I'm pretty pleased. I hit the date pretty well," said the computer science professor at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md.

When O'Toole read his e-mail Wednesday, there was a message from the college provost, who reminded everyone on campus that O'Toole and other weather forecasters were calling for a winter storm.

He looked up his prediction in the 2000 Almanack found out he was right, although technically he called for snow and not the thick layer of sleet and freezing rain that fell.


"It was a surprise to me," he said.

O'Toole made the forecast more than a year ago using a system devised by 18th-century German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, which relies on the time of day that the moon changes its phase. O'Toole is the Almanack's seventh weather prognosticator since 1797.

A half-inch of snow and ice fell in Hagerstown Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

The winter weather canceled or delayed school for students throughout the Tri-State area.

Ice triggered scattered power outages in Washington and Frederick counties, said Allegheny Power spokesman Guy Fletcher.

Power was restored by 5:30 p.m. to about 1,400 customers in Washington County. But some of the 8,000 customers hit in Frederick County, Md., were still without power Thursday night. Service was expected to be restored to everyone by today.

About 1,200 Hagerstown City Light customers, most concentrated in the North End, were without power for several hours during the storm, said Hagerstown Light Department Manager Terry Weaver.

"The damage wasn't as great as we expected," he said.

The Almanack is predicting snow again Sunday, tapering off to flurries through Thursday.

But it doesn't look that that's going to materialize, judging from the most recent weather forecasts.

The National Weather Service is calling for mostly clear skies Sunday with highs in the upper 40s. There is a chance of precipitation late Monday and into Tuesday, but it should be too warm to snow, the forecast shows.

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