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Area bids farewell to winter

March 20, 2003|By JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

The cold weather, her heat bills and the snow are things Peggy Easley won't miss about winter.

Walking outside, gardening, just getting outside are things Easley said she looks forward to this spring, which starts at 8 tonight.

Easley, 51, of Waynesboro, Pa., was among several people taking advantage of Wednesday's relatively warm temperatures at Hagerstown's City Park.

There were still some remnants of snow left from February's 34.8 inches of snowfall in Hagerstown, but it's been starting to feel more like spring this week.

Crocuses and pansies are starting to blossom and there hasn't been any significant snowfall since February.

That's a far cry from what people were experiencing Wednesday in the Denver area, where a blizzard left many roads impassable with 2 to 3 feet of snow, according to the National Weather Service's Web site.

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"They can have it. We had enough," Easley said.

Most of the snow that frustrated Tri-State area residents came during the extended President's Day weekend storm.

The four-day storm left 24.6 inches of snow, making it the fourth largest snowfall on record, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at i4weather.net. Keefer's records go back to 1898.

The total snowfall was 56.7 inches taking into account snowfall in November and early December, according to Keefer's records.

Winter officially began Dec. 21, 2002, making the seasonal snowfall total 47.7 inches.

The continuing snowmelt from the mountains in Western Maryland and Pennsylvania indicate above average flooding potential for the Potomac River in March and April, National Weather Service meteorologist Luis Rosa said.

Local stretches of the Potomac River were expected to approach flood stage this weekend, Rosa said.

The snow has left local farmers with the most spring moisture they've had to work with since 1998, said Washington County Agricultural Extension Agent Don Schwartz.

Farmers are looking forward to harvesting alfalfa, grass hays and seeing healthy pastures for their livestock to graze after having to buy much of their forage in recent years because of the drought, Schwartz said.

Farmers could have a decent summer if the Tri-State area continues to experience moisture from a jet stream coming up the coast, Schwartz said.

State Climatologist Ken Pickering said recently that storms have been moving more directly from west to east so there haven't been major storms locally.

This spring is expected to be normal in the Hagerstown area, according to the National Weather Service.

The average monthly precipitation for Hagerstown is 2.77 inches in April, 3.82 inches in May and 3.13 inches in June, Rosa said.

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