Were it not for stubborn mounds of dirty snow, Wednesday's record-breaking storm might be a memory. But with high temperatures expected to reach the low to mid-60s today, even those patches could melt into the past.
By yesterday afternoon people were already turning their attention to fair weather activities. At Lafayette Park two men played pickup games of chess, a man in a dark pin-striped suit read the morning paper while a homeless man slept hunched against a tree, his bed a bundle of canvas bags instead of a heated grate.
"Thank goodness the snow is gone," said an exuberant Pat Dix as she walked down 15th Street NW, eating freshly popped popcorn. "The snow I shoveled this year seemed heavier than the snow I shoveled last year. I have 22 steps leading up to the front of my house and a driveway with a 30-degree incline. I'm glad it's getting warmer."
People who two days earlier were bundled up in hats, scarves and gloves, strolled hatless and gloveless in unbuttoned coats. In Ginn's shoppers in short-sleeved shirts searched for Christmas gifts and fanned the stuffy air with Christmas cards. Tourists stepped from tour buses and out into the sun in front of the White House, to pose while friends snapped their pictures.
Anne Sessions of Annapolis was thinking about going sailing today. She stopped at the vending stand at 15th and L streets NW yesterday to buy bananas for herself and tangerines for her "significant other."
"I love the weather," she said. "The storm came in. It was quick. It dumped the snow and now the snow is melting. This way we can still get our sailing in on the weekends. We sailed last weekend and we plan to go sailing this weekend."
Last weekend, temperatures were in the 60s and 70s, and then in the middle of the week a steady snowfall left a blanket of snow 10 to 15 inches deep and canceled some Veterans Day activities.
Calvin Meadows, a meteorological technician at the National Weather Service, said, "This weather really isn't weird; it's fall. It's the transition to winter when temperatures can fluctuate wildly."
No one had to tell Monica Boyd-Richards that. "I'm from St. Thomas. I expect anything to happen during this time of year here," she said, as she walked downtown, clutching her 3-year-old old son Vivian by the hand. "I just accept it. Anyway, snow or no snow, it's still cold to me." In St. Thomas, she said, "It is summer all the time."
Roy Doleman and Willie Clanton don't let the weather bother them either, though yesterday Clanton said, "The sun is real nice."
The two met in Lafayette Park for their daily talk, as they have done for years, no matter the season.
"I come to read the paper and talk," said Clanton, who would only admit to being "in my early forties."
"All you have to do is wrap up good," said Doleman, 66. "The cold doesn't worry me; just the wind. I come here to enjoy myself even in the winter. You have to get fresh air."
Still, if there is such a thing as normal, the Washington area will have it today and tomorrow. According to Meadows, the normal high for November is 57.4. On Wednesday the high was (burrr) 35.