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Summer arrives following wet spring

June 20, 2004|By JULIE E. GREENE

There's been a whole lot of mowing going on.

When the weather has broken to allow mowing, Hagerstown-area residents are finding themselves mowing more often or mowing higher grass, some said.

"I've been mowing twice a week and, normally, I haven't done that in some time," said Earl Babington, 74.

Babington said he has been riding his red Toro mower on his Linden Avenue lawn on Tuesdays and Saturdays this spring.

"It's staying wet enough for me to keep to that schedule," Babington said.

This spring has been one of the wettest on record, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

Reviewing his data for the three major months of spring, April through June, 2004 is the fifth wettest spring with 18.56 inches of rain as of Saturday evening, according to Keefer. His records date to 1898.

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Summer begins at 8:57 p.m. today, according to Keefer's Web site at i4weather.net.

Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations with the Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., couldn't say whether the frequent rains will continue this summer.

"A wet spring doesn't necessarily mean it's going to continue," Halpert said.

The center issued a weather outlook for the summer months that marks the probability an area has of having normal, above normal or below normal temperatures for the season.

The Tri-State area is expected to have temperatures above normal this summer, Halpert said.

The normal average temperature for Hagerstown is 71.6 degrees and the normal average high temperature is 83.5 degrees for July, August and September, according to Keefer's Web site.

Halpert didn't know what caused such a wet spring.

With no El Nio or La Nia weather pattern, less predictable phenomena have controlled the weather, he said.

One weather phenomenon weather officials know is that the thunderstorms were generated by the clash between cold and warm fronts, he said.

What Hagerstown Suns General Manager Kurt Landes knows about the weather is that it has caused eight home rainouts so far.

Two of those rainouts were suspended games, but the Suns still are losing revenue each time a game is rained out, he said.

Ironically, attendance at Suns games this season has a brighter forecast, with more people attending home games this year than at the same point last season, Landes said.

As of June 14, the Suns were averaging 1,939 fans per game, compared with 1,258 fans per game at the same point last year, he said. Landes attributed the increase to promotions and the weather.

"Sounds funny to say, but I think on the days it hasn't rained, it's been beautiful," Landes said. "We've had warmer weather this April and May, warmer than previous years."

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