Rain day caps wild week of winter weather

Wild winter weather in the Midwest continues, with snow and icy road conditions contributing to vehicle pile-ups and slow speeds. (Reuters)
January 11

Within the space of a few days last week almost every kind of winter weather visited the Washington region. But, and it may have been fortunate, they did not all show up at once.

Record cold. A polar vortex. High winds. Fog. Ice on the Potomac River. Rain from moisture-laden clouds. Even an apparent thunderstorm (Saturday in the Ridge area of St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland).

The start of 2014 has staked a claim to a place in meteorological legend.

But the rainy days and the freezing days came far enough apart to spare the region from the full force of winter’s worst.

Whatever else occurred in the week that began Jan. 5 and reached a rain-drenched conclusion Saturday, it did not snow.

Freezing rain in spots proved hazardous enough without a wind-whipped whiteout or blizzard.

That is not to call Monday and Tuesday benevolent. Nor did Saturday’s downpours encourage outdoor activity.

Friday night was wet, and Saturday was wetter. Over the two days, more than an inch of rain had fallen at Reagan National Airport. Water leaked from the Verizon Center roof during a basketball game.

It rained in Richmond, too, at Saturday’s outdoor gubernatorial inauguration, prompting many guests to don rain ponchos. But at least it wasn’t a cold rain. The noon temperature was 64.

Live racing at Maryland’s Laurel Park was called off Saturday.

Georganne Hale, director of racing for the Maryland Jockey Club said that after freezes and thaws crews “couldn’t even get a piece of equipment out on the track. . . . They were just sinking.”

Tension grew in the area as flood watches were posted. But by late Saturday, the region could exhale. The rain had moved out, and creek and stream levels were expected to subside.

Washington’s Saturday temperature, as measured at National Airport, ranged between 37 and 55 degrees.

At one time, it was expected that Saturday might touch 60 in Washington, suggesting a spring day, although a wet one.

As late as 11 p.m., the temperature remained at 55.

According to the latest forecasts from the National Weather Service, Sunday was to be a bit cooler, with highs in the upper 50s, accompanied by a gusty breeze.

Still, it was not expected to snow.

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