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Weather Channel breezes into town

January 06, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

TRI-STATE -- Forecasting the weather in the region Tuesday was so tricky that one of the nation's experts was called in to help.

With the possibility of freezing rain moving in, Mike Seidel of The Weather Channel set up shop in a network van at the intersection of Summit Avenue and West Washington Street Tuesday afternoon.

Seidel is known for his live reports of major weather events for The Weather Channel and it's often said that if Seidel is in town, the weather is likely to be bad.

Seidel said he came to town because of all the talk about ice. Seated in the van filled with television production equipment, Seidel busily assessed the situation on a laptop computer.

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His later analysis: "not that big of a deal."

Unlike an ice storm last month that caused widespread power outages in the East, this weather system did not have the "fresh cold air" that the December one had, Seidel said.

While Tuesday's temperatures hovered around 32 degrees, the storm in December featured rain and temperatures between 18 and 20 degrees, making it a "whole different animal," Seidel said.

Some school officials in the region didn't take any chances.

Schools in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties in West Virginia were closed Tuesday and schools in Washington County closed early. Pennsylvania schools remained open.

While Seidel was becoming less worried about the storm, others said trouble was still possible.

Late Tuesday afternoon, National Weather Service meteorologist Nikole Listemaa said there was a break in the precipitation and another band of wet weather was coming.

Listemaa said if temperatures stayed around freezing or dipped below that Tuesday night, ice could become a problem.

Any threat of ice, however, should fade today, as temperatures are expected to rise to about 35 degrees, Listemaa said.

As of about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site said .027 of an inch of precipitation had fallen that day. The high Tuesday was 35.3 degrees and the low was 31.1, the Web site said.

Washington County Public Schools ended school 2 1/2 hours early Tuesday. However, an e-mail alerting parents of the early dismissal was not received until the afternoon, despite being sent at 8:30 a.m.

That delay was caused by the failure of an e-mail server, but there were no reports of students being impacted by the issue, according to schools spokesman Richard Wright. He said problems with the e-mail server were fixed. Wright said e-mail alerts are only one of many methods used by Washington County Public Schools to alert the public about school closures or delays due to inclement weather or other issues.

The weather had not caused any major traffic problems as of 10 p.m. Tuesday. The only areas starting to see icy patches on roads were in Chambersburg, Pa., and in Hancock, officials said.

From his Hagerstown spot, Seidel was forecasting weather for the East Coast.

With a light and camera set up at the intersection in front of Discovery Station at Hagerstown Inc., Seidel said he was scheduled to give live reports every half-hour until 11 p.m. Tuesday. Then he was scheduled to resume with a morning report today at 6 a.m.

From his vantage point, Seidel said the worst of the weather appeared to be heading through central Pennsylvania and up to western Massachusetts.

Seidel, who is from Salisbury, Md., said he thinks his Tuesday appearance was the first time The Weather Channel has broadcast from Hagerstown.

"We've been in Breezewood (Pa.) for a snowstorm about eight to 10 years ago," Seidel said.

--Staff writer Erin Cunningham contributed to this story.




o A winter storm warning is in effect throughout the area through 9 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

o For updated weather forecasts, road conditions and school closures or delays, go to The Herald-Mail Accuweather




o If your event has been canceled or postponed due to weather, please e-mail webupdate@herald-mail.com.

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