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Wintry weather takes hold

January 17, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

While single-digit temperatures aren't supposed to hang around for the weekend, snow or sleet could be on the way today.

Andy Woodcock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the area may get sleet or between 2 and 4 inches of snow today with temperatures in the mid- to upper 20s. The weather is forecast to warm up to about 30 degrees Sunday, he said.

That's a contrast to Friday's weather, which was so cold that some school systems in Pennsylvania and West Virginia opened two hours late.

Woodcock said at 5 a.m. Friday the temperature in Hagerstown was 8 degrees with a wind chill factor of -13. He said there was a northwest wind traveling 25 mph.

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"This is actually traditionally the coldest week of the year," he said.

Woodcock compared the second week of January to the second week of July in the summer, which he said is traditionally the hottest week of the year.

As the atmosphere begins to cool down, traditionally the peak of that cold air strikes about the second week of January, he said.

The extreme cold weather is making its way out of Hagerstown, he said.

Berkeley County (W.Va.) Public Schools, Jefferson County (W.Va.) Schools and Franklin County (Pa.) public schools operated on a two-hour delay Friday morning.

Rob Perks, spokesman for Jefferson County Schools, said extremely cold temperatures forecast during normal bus hours prompted school officials to decide Thursday at 10 p.m. to delay school.

"A wind chill factor of 10 below convinced me," said Greencastle-Antrim School District Superintendent Duff Rearick.

"We start school pretty early here. Even though I knew it wasn't going to warm up that much, the sun is a great psychological warmer," Rearick said.

In Washington County, Chris Carter, the school system's director of transportation, said there was no delay in school openings Friday morning.

"One of the reasons we delay school is to give us enough time to make it a better situation for students, and for our bus drivers to give students a chance to get to school safely," he said.

The difference in the temperature at 6 a.m. and two hours later was 1 or 2 degrees, he said.

He said all Maryland schools but those in Garrett County schools, which delayed opening for two hours, operated as usual Friday.

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