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Winter among the most brisk on record

February 08, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

With apologies to the late songwriter Jim Croce: If we could have saved Jan. 3 in a bottle ...

We're in the mid-Atlantic region, and we must have a winter - but why not reward us with more days like Jan. 3?

Oh, Jan. 3, how we miss you.

On that day, the mercury rose to 66 degrees in Hagerstown, the highest it has been on a Jan. 3 since records started in 1898.

The temperature in Martinsburg, W.Va., hit 71 degrees that day, and Waynesboro, Pa., reached 72 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

People golfed. People rode bicycles. People fished. People sunned.

Those became fleeting fantasies as winter dragged on and people sidestepped slush puddles and pulled the drawstrings on their parkas a little tighter.

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A recent frigid, snowy spell was bad enough to cancel Saturday's and today's cards at Charles Town (W.Va.) Races & Slots. There would be no "thundering hooves" and "pounding pulses," as the track promotes.

All of this misery, of course, is from the point of view of heat lovers. Arctic souls are having fun.

Fueled by a frigid January, this has been one of the brisker winters on record.

Only once in the previous 21 years has a January been colder, according to data on Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site.

January 2004 averaged 24.9 degrees. In 1994, the average temperature in January was 23.3, the sixth lowest for that month in Hagerstown weather data history.

Usually, the average temperature for the month is 29.5 degrees.

Snowfall has been greater than normal, too.

The combined December and January total this season was 32.1 inches, about double what the typical total would be.

By comparison, the sum of the last two December and January periods - 2001-02 and 2002-03 together - was 28.4 inches.

February was huge in 2003, though - 34.8 inches of snow - so the worst (or best) might not have hit yet.

The Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack calls for four more snowstorms the rest of this month, starting Tuesday.

AccuWeather forecasters, though, see this week differently.

The extended Hagerstown forecast at www.AccuWeather.com calls for mostly sunny and breezy conditions today, with a high of 37 degrees. Tonight's low is expected to be 18.

Highs are projected to be 43 degrees Monday, with some sun, and 47 degrees Tuesday, with variable clouds.

No snow is in sight.

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