Washington area weather could be diagnosed only as schizophrenic yesterday, with falling autumn leaves providing an aberrant accompaniment to balmy temperatures and summer-style humidity.
Blithely ignoring the dictates of the calendar, the temperature reached a high of 78 compared to its normal 67, capping a toasty week of temperatures that averaged 7 degrees above normal.
June-in-October is expected to continue today with temperatures possibly creeping into the 80s, according to the National Weather Service. It will last at least through Wednesday, when there is a possibility that cold air from Canada will put the weather back on its regular fall schedule.
As the Rocky Mountain states dug out from three early snowstorms, Washingtonians yesterday basked under warm air currents from the Gulf Coast. Although the sky was more milky-white than baby-blue, and the muggy air a far cry from the usual autumn crispness, bicyclists, joggers, strollers and tourists were out in force.
At the Tidal Basin boathouse, manager Victor Lewton reported a brisk trade in pedalboats despite a midafternoon shower.
"The whole business is weather," Lewton said, noting that the boathouse had already made its expected revenues for the entire month, thanks to warm temperatures on the first two weekends of October.
Sue Atherton and Mark Fessler, sophomores at the University of Virginia, planned to pedal toward the Jefferson Memorial. Did the warm weather bring them out?
"It brought us out here in shorts," said Atherton. "I wish it brought us out here in short-sleeved shirts, too," she added, uncomfortably warm in a rugby shirt that ordinarily would have been perfect gear for an October afternoon.
But Elaine Newhall of Columbia, eating lunch outdoors at the Post Office Pavilion, would have preferred a more traditional approach to the weather. "I'd rather have it more cool and dry, more crispness in the air," she said.
Lou St. Clair, manager of Time Oil Co. in Northeast, said that although heating oil sales have slumped slightly because of the warm spell, cold weather is not far away. "We don't worry about it," he said of the heat. "We know it'll turn in November."