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Gloomy Spring for Northeast

April 27, 2000

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Back in March, New Englanders basked in an early spring with record temperatures in the 70s. They sunbathed, tossed Frisbees. Boston’s mayor even handed out tulips.

Things have changed.

Cold and damp have hovered over the Northeast since early April, making for a gloomy spring, a raw Easter and, on Wednesday, a late snowfall.

``The summer is really nonexistent here,″ said a dour Tom Fair, a forecaster at the National Weather Service in Taunton. ``It’s a very cold place.″ He was daydreaming about retiring to Florida in 14 months.

Since April 9, only two days have marked normal temperatures in Boston, according to the Accuweather forecasting service in State College, Pa. There were only three warmer-than-usual days in Portland, Maine.

Some places have been ankle-deep in April showers. There have been 4.6 inches in Boston this month, some 28 percent above normal. It’s about the same in Syracuse, N.Y., and the 5.1 inches in Washington, D.C., are twice the normal amount.

Accuweather forecaster Scott Homan said unusually deep troughs of low pressure have been slowing and bottling up storm systems.

Deepening the gloom, a spurt of slushy snow tweaked much of New England this week, with nearly an inch south of Boston. The Eagle Eye Institute, a nonprofit group that nurtures a love of nature in city youth, postponed a spring cleanup and bulb planting by teen-age volunteers in Somerville.

``If they’re cold and wet, they’re not going to enjoy it as much,″ said group spokeswoman Jackie Herskovitz.

In Durham, N.H., Jennifer Dugan, a student at the University of New Hampshire, was stunned by the snow: ``I thought my days of trooping across campus in the snow ended two months ago.″

A park in Portland, Maine, almost was deserted at lunch time. Cynthia Watkins of Durham, N.H., had brought her two children and their two friends to Maine for a hike, but she was reconsidering.

``It might be too cold, especially for the younger two. It wouldn’t be fun for them,″ she said.

The season’s nasty weather has destroyed some sensitive flowers and vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers, said Paul DeSisto, owner of The Meadow Nursery in Barrington, R.I. ``It’s slowed things down,″ he said. ``People haven’t gone into their gardens.″

Kim Armentrout puffed philosophically in the mist during a cigarette break outside the Aetna building in Hartford, Conn. ``I just want it to be nice on Saturday because I have a picnic,″ she said.

Forecasters said the gloom is apt to last at least through the first several days in May.

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