October seemingly arrived 50 days early yesterday as 60-degree temperatures and a steady, all-day downpour capped a cold, wet and dreary weekend.
By yesterday evening, National Airport had measured an inch of rain for the day, bringing the weekend total to more than two inches. Temperatures never exceeded 64 degrees - more than 30 degrees below the blisteringly hot weather of last week.
The reason: a cold front blew into town from the west on Saturday and shoved out to sea a warm Bermuda air mass that had hovered over the area for nearly a month.
The reward: forecasters say today should be dry and pleasantly warm, with temperatures no higher than the low 80s. But by mid-week, the hot August weather Washingtonians know so well should be back.
The rain and accompanying winds felled two trees on the George Washington Parkway south of Alexandria, flooded parts of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia, and caused postponement of the Yankees-Orioles baseball double-header in Baltimore.
But the weather did not stop some tourists who braved their way through the rain to area attractions. National Park Service employe Maureen Johnson said a handful of tourists were waiting when the Washington Monument opened at 8 a.m. yesterday morning, and a steady stream - as steady as the rain - continued through the day.
"This is our first time in Washington and we just didn't want to miss this," said Murphy Hastings of Winston-Salem, N.C., who stood shivering in line with her husband and two sons. The family had driven up for the day from Williamsburg, where they left their jackets.
"We'll go to the Lincoln Memorial after this, and then the Smithsonian where we'll spend the rest of the day trying to keep warm."
For area residents, the storm proved less of an adventure and more of an inconvenience. Virginia Electric and Power Co. reported about 1,000 families were cut off from electricity for about an hour in the Fairlington section of Alexandria yesterday morning after water damaged a power switch.
More than 150 familes were without power for at least 24 hours beginning 6 p.m. Saturday when water flooded a basement boiler and transformer room at the National Capitol housing project off Ridge Road SE. As of yesterday evening, firemen were still attempting to clear the basement of water, which at one point reached almost 10 feet.
"I bought $60.80 worth of food yesterday for my family," said Carolyn Belton, a legal secretary who lives in the project. "You can forget about most of it now - it's bad."
Drivers returning from Ocean City yesterday also found themselves cursing the rain. Police said by mid-afternoon thousands of cars leaving the popular resort were moving at a snail's pace west along Rte. 50. CAPTION: Picture 1, Family crossing Constitution Avenue found rain as much of a distraction as traffic. By James A. Parcell - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Umbrella-sharing requires coordination, couple near the Monument discovered.; Picture 3, Like other area residents, Patricia Reidy found rain to be an inconvenience. Photos by James A. Parcell - The Washington Post