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Snow broke February record

February 28, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Snow that fell in the Tri-State area Wednesday and Thursday made February the snowiest in Hagerstown in more than 100 years, according to a local weather observer.

Thursday's weather caused public schools across the region to close and left roads icy. In effect briefly Wednesday, the snow emergency plan in Washington County was reinstated at 7 p.m. Thursday after the snow began falling again.

As of 9:25 p.m. Thursday, about 33.2 inches of snow had fallen in Hagerstown during February, breaking the old February record of 31 inches set in 1899, weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site said.

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That brings Hagerstown's total to 55.1 inches of snow so far this winter. Thursday's storm had dropped 1.5 inches of snow as of 9:25 p.m.

And it's not over yet.

The National Weather Service was forecasting that a series of storms would drop 3 to 6 inches Thursday night and 1 or 2 inches today.

Additional snow was expected to fall on Saturday and, possibly, on Sunday, meteorologist Calvin Meadows said.

Washington County Highway Director Ted Wolford said it was no surprise that February's snowfall set a record, considering that the road crews have had to work harder than usual.

The decision to close Washington County Public Schools Thursday was based on unsafe road conditions, schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen said.

Originally, a two-hour delay was called for the start of school due to sleet in parts of the county, she said. When the snow began to fall on top of sleet, it made the roads particularly treacherous, she said.

Thursday's closing brought to six the number of days by which Washington County schools have exceeded the five calendar days allotted for snow, Mowen said.

Mowen said late Thursday she didn't expect a decision about today's classes in Washington County before this morning.

Washington County Public Schools officials have not decided how the district will spread an additional six days, or more, across the school calendar. The School Board is forming a committee to look at how to make up the time, Mowen said.

One option the committee will explore is lengthening the school day, she said. The district is aware that possibility, if chosen, could cause problems for families by interfering with schedules, she said.

The snow also prompted the City of Hagerstown to announce Thursday it was revising a parking requirement for three streets due to the weather.

Parking that normally switches from one side to the other on March 1 will be postponed until March 15, according to a city news release.

The change applies to three streets: Locust Street, from Locust Point to Broadway; Elizabeth Street; and Garlinger Avenue from Potomac to Spruce streets.

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