Everyone seemed to be talking about one subject yesterday: the weather. And, as fate would have it, the day's mail contained the quarterly Virginia Climate Advisory, produced by the office of -- believe me! -- the state climatologist, Patrick J. Michaels, at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
So you were mushing through the snow to get to work yesterday. Well, as if to piggyback on Metro Scene's recent column on the wide swings of Washington weather, the Virginia Climate Advisory tells of some weird swings of weather over the years. Perhaps the strangest winter hereabouts was 1931-32, as Metro Sceners aged 60-plus may recall.
That season, the Advisory reports, was a "winter whose warm anomalies remain unchallenged for both length and magnitude," with all three months exceeding seasonal heat records.
" . . . The fruit trees in southwestern Virginia began budding in January, and Kenbridge showed a . . . daily high of 82 . . . while the statewide low reported for the month of 15 degrees at . . . Harrisonburg, in the upper Shenandoah Valley was the highest reported statewide January low" on record.
Snowfall also was sparse. It totaled three inches in January at Harrisonburg, and "Monterey . . . showed a grand total of 0.0 inches."
February 1932 also recorded "the most unusual warm winter day in Virginia since comprehensive records began" -- 87 degrees in Roanoke 54 years ago yesterday. That day's weather map, reproduced in the Advisory, showed 76 degrees on Feb. 11, 1932, at Washington National Airport and 83 in the area of Fort Belvoir.
"Exactly 51 years later," on Feb. 11, 1983, it added, "much of Virginia received its record 24-hour snowfall." Remember?
Okay, so what does the climatologist say the Washington area can expect in the months ahead? March through May: above-normal temperature and below-normal precipitation, although the area immediately to the west and south of the Washington area can expect above-normal precipitation. April through June: above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation, the latter extending across most of the state east of the Allegheny Mountains.