In Washington, whispers of snow around the corner

November 9, 2013

On the annual journey between fall’s brightness and winter’s bleakness, Saturday appeared to approach the halfway mark. The low temperature in Washington neared freezing. Sunset was at 5 p.m. and would soon be even earlier.

Saturday did not fall precisely halfway between the dates of the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, but it came within a couple of days.

It was also a day when the references to snow in the coming week’s forecast, no matter how attenuated the possible amount, assumed a degree of plausibility.

At 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, the National Weather Service forecast for the Washington metropolitan area managed to include a reference to snow in connection with conditions expected for Monday night, Tuesday and Tuesday night.

The Weather Service said there was “a chance of rain or snow showers” after midnight Monday. The same words were used to describe possible conditions on Tuesday. For Tuesday night, the forecast called for “a 30 percent chance of snow showers.”

It has snowed in Washington in November, with more than a tenth of an inch measured on about 45 days since 1888, according to the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.

That helps distinguish this month from last, in which the temperature twice reached 90 degrees.

The normal high temperature for Washington is about to slide below the 60-degree mark and remain there until late March. (Sunday and Monday, the normal high will be exactly 60. On Tuesday it will be 59.)

Saturday’s low temperature at Reagan National Airport was 34 degrees, just two above freezing and the coldest since early April.

This results from the steadily diminishing amount of sunlight arriving here as the solstice approaches. The pallid nature of the sunlight that does arrive also plays a part.

A symbol of the withdrawal of solar benevolence is the earlier sunset. On Saturday, it came at 5 p.m. Monday it will be 4:59.

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