Residents welcome sunshine

June 25, 2003|by JENNIFER SMITS

The rain clouds have cleared away and it appears that summer has arrived, with forecasters predicting temperatures could reach 90 degrees today or Thursday for the first time since Sept. 10, 2002.

Monday and Tuesday's sunshine was a change from last month, which was the wettest May on record with 8.21 inches of rainfall, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at

The temperature hit 89 degrees in Hagerstown at 3:55 p.m. Tuesday, according to Keefer's Web site.

The National Weather Service was calling for today's high to be between 85 and 90 degrees, and the high Thursday to be between 90 and 95.


The change in weather is good news for area farmers who because of above-average rainfall had to delay field work by almost a month, said Washington County Extension Agent Don Schwartz.

Schwartz said many crops have been affected by the weather.

He said that with today's technology, corn should be "shoulder high by the Fourth of July," rather than knee high, as the saying goes. This year, however, very few acres will have reached that point on the Fourth, he said.

Corn, which depends on heat to mature, also was planted late this year, he said.

Soybean planting was delayed because soybeans usually are planted after barley and wheat, which have yet to be harvested, Schwartz said. He estimated that less than one-third of this year's soybean crop has been planted.

Schwartz said the hay harvest also has been delayed and that only 10 percent to 20 percent has been baled so far. The hay that has been baled is of low quality. That, in turn, has affected the local horse industry, with some farmers having to get hay from Canada, he said.

Schwartz said farmers were able to start working in the fields again on Monday. He said with four months remaining in the growing season, it is hard to predict how farmers might be affected financially.

"Everything is going to be growing at its max right now," Schwartz said. "If we maintain regular moisture and have three to five days a week of sun and warm temperatures, we could have a tremendous growing season."

Some Washington County businesses welcomed the warm, sunny weather, which could mean increased sales of air conditioners and other seasonal items.

"When it's raining, you sell very few air conditioners," said James Hornsby, manager of the Wal-Mart store at the Centre at Hagerstown.

Hornsby said everything from bathing suits to pool accessories has been selling well since the beginning of the week.

John Spierenburg, store manager at the Kmart in Hagerstown, also said he expected an increase in sales of seasonal items.

"If it's unbearably hot and they need an air conditioner, they come right away," he said.

Some people went to Hagerstown's City Park to enjoy the sunshine.

Christina Howard, of Cascade, said she brought her daughter to the park to feed the ducks and fish. "There's no rain and that's a good thing," she said.

Justin Lahaza and Jessica Stoey of State Line, Pa., said they wanted to spend some time outdoors before work.

Janie Williams, who lives in Hagerstown, said she tries to go to the park several times a week.

"When it's like this, I can't stay inside," she said. "I'm tired of the rain. I need the sunshine."

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