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Cold front brings in strong winds, wet roads

December 24, 2004|BY PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The forecast for Christmas day is chilly, but not nearly as wet or windy as Thursday, when gusts reached 72 mph in Smithsburg and wet road conditions proved hazardous for some motorists.

National Weather Service meteorological technician Calvin Meadows said that at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, a cold front accompanied by heavy rain moved across Washington County while temperatures were in the upper 50s.

He said that cold front would cause temperatures to drop into the 30s today and to drop even lower on Christmas Day, when temperatures might fall to the low 20s.

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Meadows warned that high temperatures in the low 20s mixed with 10 mph to 15 mph winds would make it feel like five degrees below zero to 15 degrees below zero.

He said the strongest winds on Thursday recorded at Hagerstown Regional Airport were 35 mph. Meadows said that as of 1 p.m. Thursday, .38 of an inch of rain had fallen.

Jim Vaughn, a Smithsburg weather observer, said that at 11 a.m. Thursday, he recorded a 72 mph wind gust - the strongest gust he's recorded for December. He said he began keeping weather records in 1976.

"I have a 120-pound playset and the wind picked it up and blew it a half-mile down the road," he said. "It took out a small tree in my yard on its way down."

Vaughn said other small trees also were down in the Smithsburg area Thursday.

A Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher said there were a lot of minor traffic accidents Thursday afternoon.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department said in a written release that at about 2 p.m., Bryant Keith McLean, 26, of Selma, N.C., was driving westbound on Halfway Boulevard near Hopewell Road when his vehicle skidded off the wet road, ran over the concrete median and drove into the eastbound lanes, striking a box truck driven by James Walter Itnyre Jr., 55, of 762 Spruce St. in Hagerstown.

Both drivers were taken to Washington County Hospital with minor injuries, police said.

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