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Snow not in forecast for region

January 02, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

The best opportunity for snowfall in the area might come later this month, but it's not unusual for there to be little snowfall before January, according to a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.

"We've been stuck in this mild pattern for quite some time," Kerry Schwindenhammer said Monday.

A trace of snow was recorded Dec. 7, with unusually warm temperatures having all but eliminated any opportunity for any more to fall, Schwindenhammer said. In December 2005, only 2 inches of snow was recorded, he said.

"I'm not seeing any really good opportunities (for snow) anytime soon," Schwindenhammer said. "I think all we're looking at is rain in the near future."

According to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site, i4weather.net, two record highs for the month of December were established last month. On Dec. 1, the temperature peaked at 72 degrees, and the high reached 66 degrees on Dec. 18.

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Without a dip in the jet stream to bring cold air to the area from Canada, "the flowers are probably going to get confused as to what season it is," Schwindenhammer said.

Forsythia, an olive family shrub that typically is abloom with yellow, bell-shaped flowers in early spring, already was blooming this week along Alternate U.S. 40 outside Boonsboro, Md., said Annette Ipsan, a horticulture educator for the Maryland Cooperative Extension's Washington County office.

"If a plant is blooming now, it probably is not going to bloom in the spring," Ipsan said.

Even more of a concern is the effect of the warm temperatures on commercial fruit trees, Ipsan said.

Ipsan advised those who planted new shrubs this fall to make sure they are adequately watered, and said that proper mulching also protects plants from temperature fluctuations.

A plant already borderline for being planted in the area, however, might die if a cold snap inflicts too much stress, Ipsan said.

Though not a threat to people, Ipsan said the lack of sustained cold temperatures also does little to reduce the population of ladybugs and stink bugs, which were abundant in 2006 because of a mild winter last year.

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