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Spring arrives with rainfall

March 21, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Much-needed rain welcomed the first day of spring to the Hagerstown area Wednesday.

But many more passing showers are needed to offset drought conditions, and the long-term forecast isn't favorable.

Hagerstown received just under 1.4 inches of rain Tuesday night and Wednesday, according to weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

"The benefit is that the soil will get moisture in the top few inches. But these rains will not have a great effect on groundwater recharge," said Jeff Semler, an educator at the Maryland Cooperative Extension office in Washington County.

The soil is so dry that any rain water seeping into the ground will be absorbed by the top layers of soil, he said.

"You can dig a few inches and the soil will be moist. But if you go down a foot or a foot and a half it will still be dry," Semler said.

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"We're looking for sustained above average rainfall. We had four years below average rainfall. Now we need four years above average rainfall," he said.

The long-term forecast from the National Weather Service, which covers April, May and June, calls for "near normal" precipitation, said Melody Paschetag, a weather service meteorologist.

Over the next seven days, there is a 30 percent chance of rain on Thursday, but otherwise there is no precipitation in the forecast, Paschetag said.

Temperatures are expected to drop over the next few days, before warming up on Saturday, she said.

The lowest temperatures will come through the area Friday night and early Saturday, when lows near 20 are forecast, she said.

The low temperatures could cause some concern among orchardists, Semler said.

Stone fruits such as cherries and peaches, could be affected by freezing temperatures, he said.

In vegetable gardens, only foods such as peas should be coming up at this time, and they should be able to withstand a freeze, he said.

Flowers such as daffodils and tulips, also should not be "overly harmed" by cold temperatures, he said.

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