After a 90-degree week, Washington area cools down at last

July 22, 2013

After seven consecutive days of temperatures of 93 degrees or higher, the mercury in Washington could not even reach 90 on Monday. The high for the day was 89 degrees.

That’s the normal high temperature for Washington on July 22.

And that has some significance among summer statistics. According to National Weather Service records, July 22 is the last day of the year on which the normal high temperature in the Washington area is as high as 89.

On July 23, the normal high falls to 88 degrees, taking a one-degree step in what many people consider to be the proper direction: downward.

Although Monday’s high was only a single degree below 90, it was several degrees below the high readings on many of the previous seven days. One of those days reached 97, and two reached 96. Two others had highs of 95.

Of course, Monday’s deviation from the trend of highs in the 90s did not create an occasion for rummaging through closets for woolens and winter wear.

It was still humid — sticky enough to create for many residents a feeling of discomfort that required no figures to ratify.

But figures are certainly available. Such figures include the dew point, a measure of water vapor in the air that has been linked to comfort or its absence.

Dew points Monday appeared to be reliably and steadily at a level that has been characterized in terms often used to describe unpleasant forms of government: oppressive.

Specifically, that term is often applied to dew points above the 70-degree level. On Monday, none of the available hourly readings at Reagan National Airport showed a dew point below 70.

One weather Web site had this to say about the matter:

“When the dewpoint approaches 75 degrees F, most people can ‘feel’ the thickness of the air as they breathe.”

At 9 p.m. Monday, the dew point approached 75 quite closely. It was 74.

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