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Cold weather makes a comeback

April 16, 2001

Cold weather makes a comeback



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

John SrunPhoto: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Snow and subfreezing temperatures are in the forecast for the Hagerstown area over the next few days, posing a threat to some flowers and crops.

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There's a 40 percent chance of rain or snow today. Temperatures will range from about 30 degrees to the upper 40s on Wednesday, and may drop to the mid-20s early Thursday, National Weather Service forecaster Jim Decarufel said Monday.

Any snow would be limited to "ridge tops," he said.

"(The snow) is not going to be widespread or stick to the ground," Decarufel said.

The low temperatures early Thursday could threaten some plants, said Jeff Semler, an agent with the Maryland Cooperative Extension at the Washington County Agricultural Center.

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"We're telling our customers not to put anything out yet," said Linda Martin at the Locust Hill Greenhouse in Clear Spring.

Semler recommended that people bring outdoor hanging plants inside Wednesday night, "just to be safe."

Martin said plants already outside and that can be moved should be put under a covered porch.

Plants already in the ground should be OK if the cold temperatures don't stay around for more than one night, Semler said.

"There might be some damage, but it probably won't kill (the plants)," he said.

People concerned about their plants can cover them. He suggested cutting the tops off milk or soda bottles and putting them on top of the plants to trap the warmth of the ground.

Martin said paper bags or an old sheet can be placed over plants already in the ground.

Semler said petunias, tulips and other flowers planted close to houses should be fine.

The cold weather is returning too early in the season to affect most commercial farms, but could affect some orchards, Semler said.

"When you get below 30 (degrees) you get problems ... damage to blossoms ... damage to buds," he said. "But a lot of orchards have wind machines, which temper the environment a little."

"We're keeping our fingers crossed. If it gets cold it gets cold," said Ben Clopper at Clopper's Orchards and Ice Cream in Smithsburg.

Clopper, who doesn't use large fans on the orchard, said being close to South Mountain usually keeps the orchard a few degrees warmer than the temperatures orchards in other parts of Washington County experience.

He said if temperatures fall into the 20s, the stone fruit crops such as peaches, cherries and plums, could be killed or damaged.

"But you know these things are going to happen along the road," he said.

Semler said it would take several consecutive nights of temperatures dipping below 30 degrees to really harm the orchard crop.

After dipping into the mid-20s early Thursday, temperatures are expected to climb into the 50s later in the day, Decarufel said.

High temperatures on Friday and Saturday could reach the low to mid-70s, he said.

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