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Schools close

Winter storm brings snow; wind to whip area

ice accumulates

Winter storm brings snow; wind to whip area

February 14, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

TRI-STATE - Out-of-school youngsters took to the hills as area residents dusted off their snow shovels and stepped gingerly across slush-covered pavement in the midst of a winter storm Tuesday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Howard Silverman Tuesday evening predicted the strongest storm this winter could coat the area with as much as 1/2 inch of ice by this morning. A winter storm warning expires at 2 p.m. today.

Eleven-year-old Tyler Hardman, who was sledding with his brothers at Fairgrounds Park, said he was hoping the weather would deliver another day off from school.

"I like being off school because then you don't have to do work and stuff," said Tyler, whose family lives near the park.

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Washington County Public Schools were closed Tuesday and also are closed today.Meanwhile, schools in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia were closed today, while Chambersburg (Pa.) school officials also canceled classes, and closed district offices Tuesday and today.

AccuWeather meteorologist Chuck Caracozza said by the time the storm ends, the area would receive "a significant amount of ice accumulation" - enough to bring down power lines and tree branches.

High winds gusting at 40 mph and stronger today also could cause damage, Caracozza said.

Ed Plank, director of the Washington County highway department, predicted Tuesday evening that students might be staying home.

"I really feel that if it continues like this, there's going to a be a whole lot of people who are going to stay home and hopefully, if they have electric, stay warm," Plank said.

Though he commended crews working around the clock to clear the streets, Plank conceded Tuesday that anti-ice materials could only do so much.

"We've been fighting it all day and have lost ground as of this evening," said Plank, who expressed concern about the possibility of falling limbs and power lines.

Allegheny Energy's 700-plus linemen and other workers would be ready today if ice wreaks havoc for customers, spokesman Allen Staggers said.

In a press release, the company suggested residents prepare storm kits including spare batteries, fresh water and nonperishable food. People should stay away from downed power lines, and if they experience outages, they should unplug major appliances, and keep their refrigerators and freezers closed.

On Tuesday afternoon, streets in Hagerstown seemed clear, and some residents could be seen shoveling their sidewalks or knocking snow and ice from their vehicles.

White puffs of air circled around Jim Baker's mouth, as he smoked and pushed a snowblower outside St. John's Evangelical Church on Potomac Street. A cloud of snow escaped from the side of the machine.

The caretaker of the church, Baker said he did not mind the snow.

"It's extra work for me, but I got a snowblower, so I can do most of it with that," Baker said.

A Web site maintained by Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer said 2 inches of snow and ice had fallen as of 4 p.m. Tuesday. According to www.i4weather.net, 3.8 inches of the 5.2 inches that have fallen this season came this month.

Lori Hardman, Tyler's mother, said she and her family were enjoying the weather while they could.

Silverman's forecast predicted the storm would dump only about an inch of additional sleet and snow today. Temperatures could climb above freezing Saturday, he said.

In Pennsylvania

Wintry weather and an ominous forecast prompted Tuscarora School District on Tuesday afternoon to delay school by two hours today, with a promise that district officials would review the situation this morning and decide whether to completely close the Mercersburg, Pa., area schools.

Other Franklin County, Pa., school districts opted to make their announcements this morning.

The Waynesboro (Pa.) Area School Board canceled its meeting Tuesday evening and pushed the start time of next Tuesday's up to 6 p.m.

The Waynesboro Area School District announced that it will still follow a scheduled two-hour delay on Thursday (for teachers to analyze test results) unless further inclement weather warrants a change. Any change will be announced through area media and on the district's Web site at www.wasd.k12.pa.us.

Dropping temperatures were blamed for Tuesday's water main break on Pa. 16 across from Borough Hall in Waynesboro. It was the second break on the route in a week.

"The guys worked really quickly," Borough Utilities Director S. Leiter Pryor said.

The 7 a.m. break was repaired in three hours, but required a section of the street to be torn up, Pryor said.

The borough also has pushed back curbside garbage and recycling collection because of the expected wintry weather today. Today's garbage and recyclables will be picked up Thursday, Thursday's will be picked up Friday and Friday's garbage and recyclables will be picked up Saturday.

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