A chilly start to winter, thanks to wind

December 22, 2012

The winter solstice arrived Friday during one of Washington’s warmer Decembers. Saturday, the first full day of astronomical winter, remained warmer than normal, but chill winds helped create a wintry sensation.

Two days earlier and Saturday’s gusts might have been considered no more than the last blasts of late autumn.

But on Saturday, and for much of post-solstice Friday, it was possible to face the fierce flow of cold air, and to declaim with seasonal correctness the famous first words of the poem: “Blow, blow thou winter wind . . . ”

Over the day at Dulles International Airport, the average wind speed was more than 25 mph.

The peak gust there was 51 mph.

Wind gusted as high as 43 mph at Reagan National Airport.

On Friday, snow flurries were detected in northern and western sections of the metropolitan area.

Snow fell in far western sections of Maryland. As much as four inches was measured by 7 a.m. in Frostburg, in Allegany County.

But so far, this has been an uncommonly warm December.

Through Saturday evening, the mercury at National has dipped as low as freezing on only one day, Dec. 14, when it fell to 30.

In the same 22-day period, Washington’s temperature as measured at National has been more than 7 degrees above normal.

Saturday’s high of 45 degrees equaled the normal high for that date.

However, the low temperature was 39 degrees, 8 degrees above the normal low temperature for Dec. 22.

That made the average temperature for the day four degrees above the normal figure.

Thus Saturday became one more in the long string of December days with a higher than usual average temperature.

The average on Dec. 1 was spot on. The average on Dec. 6 was 2 degrees below the usual average. All the rest have been above.

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