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Flurries fly, wind cuts off power to some

November 14, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Gusty winds blew snow flurries across the Tri-State area Thursday, leaving more than 2,000 Allegheny Power customers without electricity as of 8 p.m., but forecasters said the weather should be less blustery this morning.

Winds on Thursday were between 30 and 40 mph. The highest gust recorded in Hagerstown was 53 mph at 1:45 p.m., said Steve Rogowski, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Flurries across the area were the result of cold, dry northwest winds that had blown across the Great Lakes, picking up moisture and causing light snow to fall in parts of Northern Maryland, Rogowski said. An inch of snowfall was recorded Thursday in Frostburg, Md., in Allegany County, but no accumulation was recorded in the Hagerstown area, he said.

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Rogowski said Thursday's winds, which placed the Hagerstown area under a high wind warning, will shift further west overnight, keeping most of the snow flurries north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Winds today will be between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts to 30 mph, Rogowski said.

The high winds meant trouble for Allegheny Power, which had crews working throughout the day to restore power to thousands of customers.

Janice Lantz, spokeswoman for Allegheny Power, said as of 8 p.m., 200 customers were without power in Washington County; 800 were without power in Franklin County, Pa.; fewer than 1,000 customers were without power in Berkeley County, W.Va. and 32 were without power in Jefferson County, W.Va.

"The problem we've been running into is that the wind is so strong that these numbers are a constant moving target," Allegheny Power spokeswoman Tara Curtis said.

Lantz said that by 8 p.m., the company had restored power to more than 18,500 customers in Western Maryland, from Garrett County to Carroll County.

A power outage at Fairview Outdoor School near Clear Spring prompted fifth-grade students from Western Heights Middle School to return home a day early.

Michael Markoe, Western Heights principal, and school staff on Thursday afternoon were calling the parents of 52 students to have them pick up their children at Western Heights.

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