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Spring is in the air

March 20, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

TRI-STATE - On winter's last full day, 7-year-old Cameron Byrd went looking for a fish.

"I want the gold one," he said as he peered into the pond at City Park.

Bountiful sunshine bathed the area Sunday, as chilly temperatures ushered out winter. Spring starts at 1:26 p.m today, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.

The Byrd family of Martinsburg, W.Va. said they brought three loaves of bread to feed the fish and ducks.

Tina Byrd, Cameron's mother, said she was a little disappointed by this winter's mild weather.

"We wanted snow, especially the kids. Well, even the adults. We wanted to go sled riding," Byrd said.

According to i4weather.net, a Web site maintained by local weather observer Greg Keefer, 14.4 inches of snow has fallen in the Hagerstown area since the start of November. Last year, 18.6 inches fell during January and February alone, while in the winter of 2003-04, 37.2 inches of snow fell.

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Sunday's high temperature as of 7 p.m. was 49.5, according to i4weather.net.

AccuWeather meteorologist Ray Martin said Sunday that area average temperatures since Dec. 21 - the start of winter - are 3 degrees above normal.

"It certainly was one of the mild ones. It probably wasn't quite a record," Martin said.

The winter of 2006 was the 16th-warmest at Washington Dulles International Airport, National Weather Service meteorological technician Calvin Meadows said.

The jet stream stayed farther north than normal, Meadows said. He said temperature fluctuations are not unusual.

With an upper-level low-pressure system now stuck above the eastern United States and Canada, Martin said he predicted cooler temperatures, and he did not rule out a spring snowfall.

"It's certainly possible to have a good snowstorm as late as the middle of April," Martin said.

At City Park, Cameron gazed at the fish that swarmed for food. He said he wanted to bring a fish home and keep it outside. Once it got too big, he said he would bring it back.

"They swim really fast, and they can eat anything," Cameron said.

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