The last day of spring sprang a 92-degree preview of summer on the Washington area yesterday, and Grady Hall, who calls the street home, resumed his personal air-conditioning ritual of panhandling for ice.
Hall, stretched at full length on the Western Plaza sidewalk near the National Theatre, was partially shaded by a multicolored umbrella perched on his wheelchair. Except for his crutches, which lay beside him, and a precautionary supply of ice in two blue Thermos bottles, all his belongings were cradled in the seat of the wheelchair.
"When it gets real hot," Hall said, "I get me an ice pack."
As hot as yesterday was, it fell short of the record 99 degrees for the date, which was set in 1931. But with summer officially in season, the area is in for a swelter, with temperatures in the high 80s predicted for today, highs back into the 90s tomorrow, and the persistent threat of thunderstorms.
In fact, the 36-year-old Hall may have to panhandle for a lot of ice this summer, because the National Weather Service is predicting "a normal summer" for the area -- "hot and humid," that is, with rush hour showers and sticky winds.
Residents can expect the average highs in June, July and August to be 84, 87.9 and 86.4 respectively, with the average lows during these months only 65 for June, 69 for July and 68.7 for August, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Joseph Cefaratti.
It could be worse though: The hottest summer on record for the area was 1980, according to Cefaratti.
That year the average high was 84.6 degrees in June, 91 in July and a blistering 92 in August, Cefaratti said.
And it is hoped that Washington will not reach its record high of 106 degrees set Aug. 6, 1918, and matched July 20, 1930.
Even if this summer is not a record setter, tourists and residents should not expect much relief from the humidity because the factors that create it do not change, said Cefaratti. Washington is humid because most of the prevailing summer winds are out of the steamy South and Southwest and because of its proximity to large bodies of water, which help create humidity through evaporation.
Yesterday's heat and humidity did not stop many residents from enjoying themselves at festivals and fairs throughout the area.
Jonnie Dreamer sat smiling appreciatively beneath a blue and white tent as Joanne Shenandoah and her three-piece band churned out folk music near the National Theatre in an event sponsored by a North American Indian group.
"I've lived here 13 years, and I love Washington summers," said Dreamer, a Crow Indian from McLean.
"I think I am the only one, but I love the humidity."