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Weather still up in the air

March 20, 2004|By JULIE E. GREENE

March madness has arrived.

It's that time of year when Mother Nature gets fickle and can't decide if it should be warm or cold outside.

The crocuses that started popping out in recent weeks were sprinkled with snow this week, yet today is the first official day of spring.

National Weather Service Program Manager John Newkirk said there still is a possibility the area will get more snow, but it will be like the snow that fell Friday morning.

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It shouldn't stick around.

The weather has been inconsistent of late, with March 2 having a high of 70 degrees and Friday starting off with snow flurries.

The Hagerstown area set a new record high temperature for Jan. 3 with 66 degrees, breaking the previous record of 65 degrees in 2000, according to local weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at i4weather.net.

Two months ago, it didn't seem like winter would weaken, said Ted Wolford, director of the Washington County Highway Department.

Winter started with a bang, but he was glad to see the snow and ice taper off in February and March, Wolford said. As it is, the county's snow removal costs are expected to be between $200,000 and $250,000 over budget, he said.

The Hagerstown area has received 36.7 inches of snow since Nov. 1, compared with 59.3 inches of snow last year, according to Keefer's records. Winter officially began Dec. 22.

Almost half of this winter's snow fell during a five-day period from Jan. 23-27 with no more than 4.2 inches of snow falling a day in the Hagerstown area, according to Keefer's records.

"We could have had much more severe storms," Wolford said. "We kind of lucked out, I guess."

The long-range spring forecast calls for the Hagerstown area's temperatures and precipitation to have even chances of being below or above normal, Newkirk said.

The average temperature is highs in the 60s moving into the 70s as the weather warms, Newkirk said. The average overnight lows move from the 40s to the 50s, he said.

The average precipitation here is 3.22 inches in April and 4.22 inches in May, Newkirk said.

Last year, there was 3.59 inches of precipitation in April, and May set a record with 8.21 inches of rain, according to Keefer's records.

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