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Region braces for prolonged snow

January 26, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

The National Weather Service forecast is calling for snow through the first half of this week.

The Tri-State area was hit with snow for the second time during the weekend Sunday evening. In Hagerstown, the snow began falling in significant amounts just after 7 p.m.

According to the I4 Weather Web site, managed by Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer, 1.5 inches of snow had fallen by 9:35 p.m. National Weather Service Meteorologist David Manning said Sunday evening that residents of Hagerstown and West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle should expect to see 5 to 10 inches on the ground by mid-morning today.

Manning said there was a 70 percent chance for freezing drizzle to follow the snow early this afternoon and a 60 percent chance of steady freezing rain in the evening.

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"The chances have been increasing in the last day or so," Manning said.

Manning said temperatures were not expected to stay above freezing for a prolonged period of time before Friday, when temperatures in the low 40s are anticipated for the afternoon.

The forecast is calling for a chance of snow Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning and early afternoon, according to the National Weather Service Web site.

Although the majority of the snow was yet to fall Sunday at 9:30 p.m., public works employees were at work and running into difficult conditions, said Washington County Highway Department Director Theodore Wolford. He said the light, powdery consistency of the snow was making plowing efforts arduous.

"It's pretty bad," he said. "It's dry snow. It comes over the plow, onto the windshield. It's a slow process."

Wolford, operating a plow during a telephone interview, said employees began clearing county roads at 8 p.m. He said half the work force - about 40 people - was operating plows throughout Sunday evening, as were an additional 15 workers supplied by area contractors.

Wolford said he anticipates the plowing and snow removal will take three days if forecasters are correct.

Sunday evening's storm contributed to several minor accidents between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. throughout Washington County, a Washington County 911 Center dispatcher said.

Dispatchers at 911 centers in Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia and Franklin County in Pennsylvania reported no snow-related crashes before 9:45 p.m.

Late Sunday, many agencies and organizations were mulling options for operations today.

Washington County Board of Education spokeswoman Carol Mowen said Sunday evening that the school system was operating on a two-hour early delay today with modified kindergarten schedules, but the situation would be re-evaluated early this morning.

Franklin County school officials typically make decisions based on school closures or late openings on the morning affected by weather conditions.

Washington County Administrator Rod Shoop said decisions on county government will be made at about 5:30 a.m. today. He said he was not anticipating any government cancellations.

"Our highway department is out in full force so, hopefully, we'll be in good shape," Shoop said.

The following cancellations were confirmed Sunday:

  • Schools in Berkeley and Jefferson counties in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia are closed today.

  • The meeting for area veterans with U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Washington, scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Elks Lodge at 11063 Robinwood Drive, Hagerstown, has been postponed, said Lisa Wright, Bartlett's press secretary, and a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  • The 1 p.m. meeting for veterans and Bartlett in Frederick, Md., also has been postponed.
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