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YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsSnow

Fluffy white stuff gives many a cool way to spend day

January 25, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Twelve-year-old Joel Exline shoved a handful of fresh snow into his mouth Saturday.

"I don't know," he said, trying to describe the flavor. "It doesn't have a flavor."

"It's hard to explain," chimed in his friend, Steven Sankbeil, 14.

Exline gave up trying.

"It tastes like snow," he said.

Sankbeil, Exline and Exline's brother Levi, 13, spent most of the day Saturday outside wrestling in the snow near their Sharpsburg home.

Instead of the one or two inches that had been predicted for the area, a half-foot or more of snow fell over Washington County and surrounding areas during the storm that began Friday night.

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The snow prompted snowball fights, unexpected cleaning efforts, cancellations, unexpected business and transportation woes.

Raymond Hosby, 43, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., had just begun shoveling snow Saturday afternoon. He said he was surprised to find nearly half a foot of snow.

"It was calling for what, one to two, two to three inches? And it wasn't supposed to be until 12 (midnight)," Hosby said.

His son's basketball game was canceled Saturday morning, but Hosby said he wasn't too upset. As far as the snow on his driveway, "Push it out of the way, and be done with it. ... Hey, it's winter. It's gonna happen."

Last winter, James Russell was shoveling snow but this winter, he was plowing it - thanks to a small old orange tractor with a 4-foot plow that he and his brother Raymond bought.

"We bought it off my brother's wife's girlfriend's grandmother," said Russell, 37, of Main Avenue in Hagerstown's West End.

Russell said they plow some neighbors' walkways and driveways for free and do others to make some money.

In Martinsburg, W.Va., snow still was falling while the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau tourism office slowly filled.

By 11:15 a.m., 10 people huddled in the office waiting for the Amtrak Capitol Limited, which was running an hour late. The unexpected visitors made for an unusually busy Saturday in the office, office assistant Pat Grossman said.

Freight trains had taken extra time in the weather, causing the train from Chicago to Washington to run late, said travelers who were calling Amtrak's central line.

"We drove an hour to get here to pick up our mother. ... we were a little bit worried" about the weather, said Sharon Biddle, 49, of Mercersburg, Pa.

Biddle said she had been thinking of commuting by train to her Washington, D.C., job, "but I'm reconsidering now."

Daniel Snook, 22, has family in Hagerstown and lives in New York.

"I've been here since 8 o'clock this morning," Snook said. "It's the second time I've used the train. Each time, I've been sadly disappointed."

Skiers flocked to Whitetail Mountain Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., on Saturday, which the second- or third-busiest day this season, marketing coordinator Chris Black said.

"Today was really busy. ... the conditions are just awesome," Black said. He said he did not know exactly how many people had visited.

He said more snow predicted for today could be a boon or a bust.

"If it's not too bad out and travel's possible, it could be really good for us," Black said.

Saturday's snow and today's predicted weather also boosted sales at Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse on Wesel Boulevard in Hagerstown, store sales manager Charissa Wieland said.

Salt, windshield de-icing fluid and wood-stove fuel chips have been selling briskly this week, Wieland said. But looking at the store's stock of power equipment, there was one item noticeably missing among the tillers, tractors and chippers.

The store's last 16 snow-throwers - which retail for between $499 and $2,000 - were taken home Saturday, Wieland said.

"They're gone. ... I think if we had 16 more, I think we'd sell them" too, she said.

Today's predicted weather and its effect on Monday's commute no doubt weighed on many people's minds Saturday.

But at least one person is hoping for the worst.

Levi Exline, who was part of the Sharpsburg trio of snow revelers, said, "Hopefully, we don't have school on Monday."

- Staff writer Julie E. Greene contributed to this story.

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