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Winter went out like a lamb

March 19, 2001

Winter went out like a lamb



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown's 2000-2001 winter started colder, ended warmer and had less snowfall than the average winter, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's records.

Winter ends and spring begins at about 8:30 a.m. today, but wintery weather is expected to stick around. There is a chance of rain or snow today and Wednesday, said Julie Arthur, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

The relatively mild end of winter was marked with record-setting and record-tying days in February.

According to Keefer's records, a new record high was set on Feb. 10 when the temperature reached 63 degrees, breaking the old record of 62 degrees set in 1960.

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The temperature on Feb. 9 rose to 63 degrees, matching the record high also set in 1960.

During the 2000-2001 winter, 22.9 inches of snow fell in Hagerstown. It was the lowest snowfall total since the winter of 1997-1998 when 13.3 inches fell in the area. The average annual snowfall in Hagerstown is 29.7 inches.

December in Hagerstown was 7.5 degrees colder than normal, with an average temperature of 26.8 degrees. Typically December's average temperature is 34.3 degrees. Colder than normal temperatures began in November 2000, which was about 42 degrees, almost 3 degrees lower than usual.

The mercury rose with the New Year, and the average temperature this January was 1 degree higher than normal for the month.

The average temperature in February was 37.2 degrees, which was 4.6 degrees above normal.

William O'Toole, weather prognosticator for J. Gruber's Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack, said he had a "pretty good" winter.

"Especially in calling for an early start to the winter," said O'Toole, who is also a math and computer science professor at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Md.

O'Toole said winter "hung around" longer than he had predicted, and it snowed less than he forecast.

"I said 50 inches of snow, and I measured 32.5 (inches). ... I'm going to really miss the snowfall prediction," he said.

O'Toole's snowfall readings differ from the Hagerstown totals, because he measures the snowfall at his Emmitsburg residence.

To predict weather for the almanac, O'Toole uses a system devised by 18th-century German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel, which relies on the time of day that the moon changes its phase. The closer to noon the change, the higher the likelihood of wet, windy, stormy weather that week.

Spring begins today with the vernal equinox at 8:31 a.m. and lasts until the summer solstice at 3:38 a.m. June 21.

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