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Northeast Basks in Warm Weather

March 9, 2000

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Record-setting temperatures soared Thursday as high as the 70s around the Northeast, spreading spring fever and unleashing an out-of-season blast of thunderstorms.

Declaring an unofficial opening to spring, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino handed out flowers in Copley Square. Law student Jason Howard left behind his books and tossed a Frisbee disc at Boston Common. ``I start getting spring fever about January. Days like this make it worse,″ Howard said.

In Worcester, the temperature climbed to 74 degrees, leapfrogging the old record of 60 for the date. It was 34 degrees above the normal high, according to the National Weather Service.

Records were set at 73 in Atlantic City, N.J.; Scranton, Pa.; and Rochester, N.Y. Boston was a record 72. Even far-north Burlington, Vt., went to an unprecedented 64.

The bubble of warmth formed courtesy of a high-pressure system that carried Pacific air into the Great Plains several days earlier. As it pushed out into the Atlantic Ocean, more warm air spun into this region from the southwest, according to forecaster Kim Lubold at AccuWeather, a private forecasting service in State College, Pa.

Scattered thunderstorms marched eastward across the region, ushering in a chill. Temperatures were expected to drop down within two days to seasonable levels.

But winter went on holiday Thursday. The winter-weary broke out T-shirts, golf clubs, in-line skates and jogging shorts. Jackets became accessories slung over forearms. Office workers started on their summer tans during lunch hour.

At Springfield’s Court Square, hot dog vendor Martin Johnson basked in short sleeves as he tended his steaming trays. The swollen lunch hour crowd was his alone. ``There are no other carts out,″ he said. ``The warm spell caught them unexpected.″

In Burlington, Dave Holbrook, owner of Seasonal Pool & Patio, said the warmth spurred a burst of interest in pool buying.

Dozens played hooky at Bellevue Country Club, in Syracuse, N.Y. ``Most everybody took the day off,″ said golf course manager Dave Southard. ``I’ve worked here 11 years, and this is the earliest in the year we’ve had this much play.″

Spring begins March 20. But pigeons and robins battled for worms in the afternoon sunshine at Lincoln Park in Newark, N.J.. ``Don’t get used to this,″ cautioned Orlando Perez as he strolled through the park. ``This week, it might be 60 or 70 and next week be 30 or 40.″

Yet the warmth seemed to bring an infusion of good cheer just about everywhere. Lisa Block, a nursery school teacher in Stamford, Conn., wore a smiley-face T-shirt as she walked her two dogs. ``I’m tired of being stuck inside,″ she said. ``My mood gets much better in this weather.″

In some cases, winter gave way reluctantly. In Woonsocket, R.I., park personnel were forced to close a new skating rink, at least until the evening. ``We had five people yesterday when the ice was starting to get gooey,″ said Parks Department volunteer Peter Glaude. ``Today, nobody even tried.″


On the Net:

National Weather Service: http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/graphicsversion/bigmain.html

Intellicast: http://www.intellicast.com/LocalWeather

Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com

UM Weather (University of Michigan): http://cirrus.sprl.umich.edu/wxnet

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