January One of Coldest in Decade

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 1, 2009

The month that just ended was more than three degrees colder than normal, and one of Washington's coldest in the past 10 years, according to National Weather Service data.

At a time when ice from last week's storm was still glittering on the ground in places, and with January distinguished by persistently frigid temperatures, snow appeared in the forecast for tomorrow night and Tuesday.

It appeared yesterday that Washington, after a long period of warmer than normal months, was finally experiencing both the look and feel of winter.

However, two relatively warm days were expected to intervene before tomorrow night's storm. A National Weather Service forecast called for a high temperature of 49 degrees today and for an even warmer 51 degrees tomorrow before the storm arrives.

Last month's average temperature was 31.6 degrees, according to preliminary figures and calculations. That temperature is more than eight degrees colder than last January, and the coldest January since 2004, as measured at Reagan National Airport.

The January average in 2004 was 30.6.

Of January's 31 days, on only two did the mercury remain above the freezing mark. On Jan. 5, the low temperature was 37 degrees. On Jan. 7, the temperature dipped no lower than 33.

On every other January day, including each of the last 24, the low temperature was 32 degrees or below.

One of last month's most commonly heard comments on the weather, "It's freezing," thus appeared to be confirmed by meteorological data.

As of 11 p.m. yesterday, the low temperature for the day was 22 degrees, 10 degrees below the freezing mark. The high for the day was 36 degrees.

Tomorrow, according to the weather service forecast, rain or snow is likely in the evening. Forecasters said there is also a chance of snow after midnight.

The probability of some form of precipitation was 70 percent, the weather service said.

Tuesday was expected to be cloudy, with a 50 percent chance of snow.

In the past 10 years, only a handful of months have been colder than the one that just concluded. February 2007 had an average temperature of 30.9 degrees.

January 2003 had an average of 31.1 degrees.

Warmer weather may return at the end of this week, according to the weather service forecast.

It called for a high temperature of 44 degrees Friday and 48 degrees Saturday.

The average high temperature for this time of year is about 43 or 44 degrees.

January's high temperature was 51 degrees, reached most recently at National on the 23rd.

The low for the month was 8 degrees, the lowest recorded here since 2004.

The 8-degree reading at National came Jan. 17.

On the same day, the mercury at Dulles International Airport reached zero degrees.

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