Cool 20-mile-per-hour winds chilled Washington's unseasonably mild temperatures yesterday but the pleasantly warmish weather is expected to continue into the weekend.
After reaching a high of 62 on Christmas Day, the temperature rose to a high of 49 yesterday. It is expected to reach into the mid or upper 40s today and through Sunday.
There is a chance of a dusting of snow on Sunday if a rainstorm that is now in the South but heading toward the Washington area sideswipes the slightly cooler temperatures that blew in yesterday.
"But it still doesn't look like a good burst of cold weather," said a National Weather Service spokesman.
Instead of bundling up against normal temperatures that hover around freezing at night and rise to the mid-40s during the day, area residents have relaxed since Dec. 4 in moderate temperatures that exceeded 50 degrees about half the time.
The unseasonably warm weather resulted from a continuous flow of mild air currents blowing in off the Pacific Ocean. The current then meandered, at high altitudes across the nation, mingling on arrival here with warm surface air currents coming up from the southern states, according to the National Weather Service.
These mild air currents replaced the cold winds that normally descend from Canada at this time of year to chill the air, freeze fingers and toes and generate hopes of a white Christmas.
An almost exact copy of these conditions combined last year to bring about a mild December. A year ago, that warmer weather gave way to below-freezing temperatures almost immediately after New Years's Day.
The Saturday-through-Monday forecast for this year calls for partly sunny skies with high temperatures ranging from the mid to upper 40s during the day and falling to the low to mid-30s at night. There is a chance of precipitation on Sunday, forecasters said.
Retailers said they would welcome reports of colder weather in hopes of selling languishing supplies of coats, heavy jackets, and mufflers.
"Whenever it is unseasonably warm outside people are not in the mood to buy men's and women's coats and outerwear," said Leonard Kolodny, manager of the retail bureau of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.
When the store manager at Bond Clothes at 1335 F St. NW, was asked about outerwear sales yesterday he answered with one word -- "terrible."
"We're still waiting for winter to come," said manager William J. Bachteler. "It's a combination of the weather and the economy. The economy has forced people to buy less."
The cooler winds delighted 5-year-old Michelle Meyer, of Racine, Wis.
"The leaves are very excited. They are dancing in the air," she said, pointing out the twirling brown leaves to her grandfather, R. H. Boyce, of Bethesda, as she munched on a hamburger in a downtown delicatessen yesterday.