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While not a recordbreaker, Friday's weather called a tease

Next week's forecast calls for freezing temperatures with snow and rain likely

February 18, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • Adrian, left, and Avery Carter are silhouetted against the sun behind clouds while enjoying Friday's warm temperatures at Fairground Park in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

A year after a near-blizzard buried the region, snow became an unmentionable word on the streets of Hagerstown Friday as temperatures soared into the low 70s.

"You said the s-word, don't say that today," said Veeda Bassette.

"Shh, shh!" said Betsy Lynch of Hagerstown, when she heard the word.

But despite the sunny spirits of people out enjoying the unseasonably warm February day, the forecast for next week paints a dimmer picture.

The National Weather Service predicted temperatures will fall back below freezing by Monday night, with snow and rain likely, according to its web site, www.weather.gov.

Knowing the forecast, Friday's weather was a tease, said Bassette, who was taking a break to catch up with friends outside her business, Inner BeYouTy.

But it was a tease the downtown business owner planned to enjoy to the fullest.

"It's like getting ready for your birthday then being told, 'Oops, we had the wrong date,'" she said. "Me, I'll be disappointed if it snows."

Every season has it purpose and its own beauty, but people have had their fill of winter, said Bridgett Mullen of Hagerstown.

While not a record breaker, Friday's high of 72.8 degrees, as recorded by Hagerstown weather watcher Greg Keefer's web site, i4weather.net, still had people doing all sorts of things uncommon for February.

Motorists rode with their windows rolled down, people sported short sleeves and diners enjoyed dinner under the stars.

Colleen Tsampos of Hagerstown said the weather prompted her to finally take down her Christmas tree.

She left it up for a bit of joy on cold days, she said.

Even if winter's fury comes back to the area next week, Lynch said she still trusts groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's "prediction" for an early start to spring.

In the immediate forecast, Washington, Franklin and Berkeley counties are under a high winds watch today.

High winds coupled with dry conditions also put Washington and Berkeley counties under a red flag warning by the National Weather Service.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring or will shortly, according to weather.gov.

"A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential," the warning said.

Battalion Chief Justin Mayhue of the Hagerstown Fire Department said that means residents need to use common sense and avoid any open burning or flames this weekend.

In high winds and dry conditions, even a grill can become a fire hazard, he said.

Especially hazardous will be cigarette butts tossed onto the ground, he said.

Once a fire is started, the wind could push it onto nearby structure and fan the flames faster than firefighters can fight it.

"It creates greater challenges for us," he said.

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