Reviewing D.C.’s truly tropical December warm spell

December temperatures at Reagan National Airport compared to normals, records. (National Weather Service) December temperatures at Reagan National Airport compared to normals, records. (National Weather Service)

Temperatures have plunged 25 degrees over the last 24 hours and winter weather is here to stay for a while. But from last Thursday to Monday we had quite the run of toasty temperatures – setting enough warm weather milestones to call the stretch historic.

Perhaps the most notable record was BWI Airport’s low temperature of just 62 degrees Sunday (18 degrees above its average high), higher than any low temperature reading there in December, January or February, since records began in 1871.

Let’s look at some of the other warm weather highlights at our three local reporting stations…

Washington, D.C. (Reagan National Airport)

From Thursday to Monday, the temperature in Washington, D.C. reached 60 or higher without exception, the longest such streak so late in December on record.  Prior to the warm spell, December’s average temperature was about one degree below normal, but now – in an impressive reversal –  it has vaulted to nearly three degrees above normal.

The two 72-degree high temperatures over the weekend were records for the date in D.C.  Saturday’s 72 shattered the previous record of 68 from 1923, and Sunday’s 72 matched the record from 1889.

The pair of 70-degree readings marked:

* The first December with two 70+ readings since 2006
* The first December with consecutive 70+ readings since 2001
* The first second half of December with consecutive 70+ readings since 1984 (when it was 75 and 71 on December 28 and 29)

The 72 degree high on Sunday (December 22) was the latest 70-degree reading in December since 1990 when it hit 71 on December 23.

D.C. also logged a record high minimum on Sunday, with a low of just 57, 8 degrees above the previous record of 49 from 1923.  There been only nine past instances with lows of 57 or warmer in December back to 1872, and only two days as warm or warmer so late in the month (12/23/1990 at 57, and 12/24/1891 at 58).

Records in Washington, D.C. (at either Reagan National Airport or 24th and M St.) date back to 1871.

Dulles Airport

Dulles Airport also set record highs both Saturday and Sunday, rising to 70 and 71, easily besting previous records of 61 (from 2011) and 67 (1984).

The duo of 70+ days was the first to occur in the second half of December since 1984 (when it was 73 and 78 on December 28 and 29).

Remarkably, its low temperature Sunday was just 62, crushing the previous record high minimum of 49 from 1990.  This 62-degree low also marked the warmest on record for the entire month of December and matched the warmest (January 8, 1998) for the entirety of meteorological winter – spanning December through February.  It joins just two other December days on record with a low of 60 or higher.

Records at Dulles date back to 1963.

BWI Airport

BWI’s consecutive 71-degree readings Saturday and Sunday were both records, passing the previous records of 62 (2011)  and 70 (1889). They were the first consecutive 70+ days in the second half of the month since 1984 (when it was 70 and 77 on December 28 and 29). Both of these days are among the top 10 warmest highs in the second half of the month on record.

Sunday’s low of 62 obliterated the previous record high minimum of 48 for the date (from 1923 and 1931).  More impressively, it was the warmest on record for the entirety of December and meteorological winter, above the 59 from December 23, 1950 and, for meteorological winter, 61 degrees on January 4, 1950.

Baltimore weather records date back to 1871.

Elsewhere in the East

As warm as it was in the D.C.-Baltimore area, it was downright summery just to our south.  Consider these records rounded-up by Weather.com:

Augusta, Ga.: Saturday’s high of 83 broke its all-time December record high of 82 previously set eight times, as early as 1967 and as recently as Dec. 6, 2013.

Norfolk, Va.: Sunday’s high of 81 broke its all-time December record high of 80 previously set three times, as early as 1978 and as recently as Dec. 6, 2013.

Jacksonville, Fla.: Sunday’s high of 84 tied its all-time December record high previously set eight times, as early as 1956 and as recently as Dec. 9, 2013.

Savannah, Ga.: Sunday’s high of 82 tied its all-time December record high previously set four times, as early as 1967 and as recently as Dec. 6, 2013.

Weather.com also reports New York City and Philadelphia, like Baltimore to its south, logged its warmest December lows on record, dropping to just 61 and 59.

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Heat Tracker

45
90-degree days year-to-date
Yearly Average
36
Record Most
67 (1980,2010)
Record Fewest
7 (1886,1905)
Last Year
24

At a Glance

Sat.

partlycloudyday
-- /87°

Sun.

partlycloudyday
70° /91°

Mon.

partlycloudyday
73° /89°

Tue.

partlycloudyday
75° /93°

Wed.

thunderstorms
76° /92°
Drop 20%

Thu.

thunderstorms
75° /90°
Drop 30%
National Airport
Dulles
BWI

Right Now

D.C. Area Almanac

 
National
Dulles
BWI
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Avg. Low
 
Rec. High
 
Rec. Low
 
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Steve Tracton · December 24, 2013

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