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Three storms expected

February 03, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

White lawns and rock-hard curbside piles of snow and ice served Monday as a reminder of the winter storms that walloped the Tri-State area last week.

They also might foreshadow another week of sloppy, wintery conditions if area forecasts are correct.

Area meteorologists from AccuWeather and the National Weather Service predicted snow and/or freezing rain would fall across the Tri-State region early today and again on Thursday and Saturday as three separate storms hit the area.

AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok said up to 3 inches of snow and sleet were expected to fall on the greater Washington County area, starting between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. today.

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After that, about one-fourth of an inch of freezing rain or drizzle was expected to fall during the morning rush hour before changing back to snow, briefly, later in the day, he said.

Pastelok said the expected rush hour ice was the biggest concern.

"Anything over one-tenth inch is pretty significant," he said.

Pastelok said another system to the west likely would bring snow, sleet and freezing rain into the area Thursday evening into Friday morning. He said that weather system is similar to the one expected to hit the Tri-State region today.

A third weather system, forming to the south of the second system, is expected to move over the area Saturday, bringing the "best chance for significant snow accumulations" this week, Pastelok said. He said the system could bring double the amount projected for Tuesday.

"That's a long way off. We don't know that track (of the storm) yet," Pastelok said. "But it does look like it's colder, (which means) more snow than rain and more snow than ice."

The anticipated stormy conditions are reminiscent of those experienced in January, especially in the last week of the month. According to the I4 Weather Web site, managed by Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer, 18.6 inches of snow fell in the Hagerstown area in January, 10 inches more than the average snowfall for the month. Most of that, 16.9 inches, fell between Jan. 23 and 27, according to the Web site.

The coming storms was a topic of conversations for workers with the Washington County Highway Department, many of whom logged a lot of overtime hours last week while clearing snow- and ice-covered roads, Director Theodore Wolford said.

Wolford said the first crew of employees working 12-hour shifts was to arrive at midnight, hours before the storm was expected to hit.

"Sometimes (the storms) are early, sometimes they're late, but I want to get them in early in case it starts," he said.

Wolford said some crews would begin immediately pre-treating many of the county's major travel arteries, including Northern Avenue, Eastern Boulevard, Robinwood Drive and Halfway Boulevard early today.

"We've got everything ready. Hopefully, it won't last too long." he said.

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