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Power outages, heat make for uncomfortable Sunday afternoon

July 25, 2010|By DAVE McMILLION and JULIE GREENE
  • As wind gusts Sunday, Donna Malekar untangles the windsocks and wind chimes she has hanging from the clothesline at her Clarendon Street home in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer,

Hagerstown ended up with the "hottest night ever" Saturday when the city's low temperature for the day stayed at 81 degrees, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

That temperature was retained through midnight Saturday, setting yet another weather record in a sizzling summer.

"It's crazy. I guess the world is heating up. At least this summer," Keefer said Sunday afternoon.

Keefer said the previous record for the highest lowest temperature in Hagerstown was 79 degrees set July 5, 1911. The record was tied July 11, 1989, Keefer said.

The scorching temperatures that have moved into the region this summer have broken records, including last month's average temperature.

The average temperature for June in Hagerstown was 76 degrees, topping the previous hottest June record by one degree, which was set in 1899, according to Keefer's website, i4weather.net.

The mercury has continued on its brutal run, including Saturday, when the high in Hagerstown was 101 degrees, breaking the previous record for July 24, which was 98 degrees in 1987, according to Keefer's website.

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Keefer said Sunday he believes the unrelenting heat could cause July's average temperature to match or break the old record for the average temperature for the month.

The hottest July on record was in 1999, when the average temperature for the month was 80 degrees, Keefer said.

Hagerstown just missed matching a high temperature record Sunday, when the mercury climbed to 99 degrees, according to Keefer's website.

The record for July 25 was 100 degrees in 1934, the website said.

Anyone seeking relief for brown, sun-baked yards might have become a little excited Sunday afternoon when the threat of thunderstorms rose.

But only 0.14 inch of rain fell, according to Keefer's website.

Emergency dispatchers said there were some reports of trees and wires down due to the stormy weather, but the problems were not serious.

Shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday, Washington County 911 got a call for heat exposure at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park in Halfway, which was hosting a triathlon, a 911 dispatcher said. A female triathlon participant refused treatment at the scene, according to the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, Md. Inc.

At 3:35 p.m. Sunday, about 1,100 customers served by the Wilson substation, which covers the area near Hagerstown Speedway, were out of power, according to Todd Meyers, Allegheny Power spokesman. He said the 34,500-volt line was likely struck by lightning and crews were hoping to restore power to the area by Sunday evening.

As of 10:45 a.m. Monday, no outages were reported in Washington County, according to Allegheny Power.

Meyers said powerful storms were causing outages throughout Allegheny Power's service area, which includes Western Maryland, and parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Residents in Hagerstown North and Northaven Mobile Home Park, north of Maugans Avenue, lost their power around 2 p.m.

Sissy Ashworth, 50, of Hagerstown North mobile home park, said she saw sparks coming out of a transformer atop a utility pole near her home.

The outage didn't keep Ashworth from continuing to cook a pot roast in her gas oven. She had to use a flashlight to peek in and check on it occasionally, she said.

Ashworth and her husband, Jim, along with neighbors Shirley Messick and Henry Murray, were sitting outside under a tent to cool off. The rain that came through shortly after the outage helped, they said.

Across the lane, Roger Griffith was cooling off as he sat in a camping chair outside his trailer. Neighbor Bill Chester sat on Griffith's porch steps.

Griffith, 62, said he was watching a movie when the power went out, so the tape was stuck in the VCR. Without his central air and window air-conditioning unit working, he went outside, where the temperature before the rain was "terrible," he said.

Chester, 49, said he had just finished rebuilding his window air-conditioning unit and had gotten his trailer temperature down from 100 to 96 degrees when the power outage occurred.

"The race went off. That upset me," said Chester, a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan.

In the nearby Northaven Mobile Home Park, Jennifer Butts, 22, said she was inside watching The Weather Channel for an update because the sky was getting dark. Then the power outage forced the TV to click off.

Casondra Gigeous, 21, said it wasn't the heat that drew her outside. She just came out to watch her cousins, Butts' children, play.

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