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Besides snow, January had some notable weather

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2011; 12:11 AM

January, already notorious for its snowstorm and the consequences thereof, distinguished itself in other meteorological categories, according to the National Weather Service.

It turned out to be the second consecutive month in Washington with below normal temperatures, the weather service said. Reagan National Airport turned in an average temperature that was about one-and-one-third degrees below the usual figure for January.

That was all the more notable given the abnormal warmth that characterized most of the previous year.

Significant contributions to January's below-normal temperature were credited to the eight consecutive days on which the daily high temperature never rose above the 30s.

Not only that, but on 19 January days, the temperature remained steadfastly below 40 degrees. This is not normal for winter in Washington. It is true that Washington, while south of the Mason Dixon Line, is not to be confused with Florida or similarly southern latitudes.

But nevertheless, there is no single day in January in Washington on which the normal high temperature is below 40 degrees.

Normal high daily temperatures for January are close to the high temperature recorded yesterday at the airport. That was 42 degrees.

The normal high temperature for part of January's days is just that figure - 42. For the rest of January, it is 43.

Sometimes in January, there arrives an unexpectedly balmy day that offers a welcome and dramatic respite from the monotony of 42s and 43s. But not this year.

It never got to 60 degrees this January. This is uncommon. According to a report issued Thursday evening by the weather service, this January was only the third in the past 20 years without a single day in the 60s.

It did have some cold days, however, such as Jan. 24th when the mercury skidded to a low at National of 17 degrees. That was the coldest temperature to which Washington was exposed since Feb. 7, 2010. That day's low was 16.

Other distinctions existed. During the Jan. 26 storm, the weather service said, thundersleet was observed. This was not a phenomenon that occurred only within the Capital Beltway.

At Dulles International Airport, thundersleet was also observed on the 26th. After that, the weather service said, came four consecutive hours of snow. That snow fell at the rate of two inches per hour.

It helped make January at Dulles the snowiest January there since 2000.

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