After enduring the worst drought in a decade this summer the Washington area has been soaked by more than 10 inches of rain during the last two months in what has become a memorable if zany meteorological year.
According to the National Weather Service, 5-35 inches of rain fell at its official measuring station at National Airport during October and another 4.91 inches fell in November, almost double the normal amount for the two months.
The result the Occoquan Reservoir in Fairfax County is full again, the Potomac is flowing at triple its normal rate, the water table for the region has been recharged and some of the local citizenry is beginning to get sick of so much rain.
The month of November was especially dreary. It rained or snowed on 21 days, including two stretches of seven consecutive days. On 23 days, the skies were offically defined as "cloudy" by the weather service meaning 80 to 100 per cent of the skies were covered by cloud on those days.
Only two days in the entire month were "clear," that is, with less than 30 per cent cloud cover.
Snow fell on Nov. 12 and 27, but little of it stuck.
Temperatures ranged widely from a low of 25 degrees on Nov. 27 to a high of 78 on Nov. 4. The average for the month was 51.8 degrees, somewhat above the normal of 48.0 degrees.
Scanty precipitation in the first six months of the year - only 12 inches compared to a normal accumulation of 13.45 inches - triggered one of the worst droughts here in recent years.
The Occoquan Reservoir dropped to record low levels, causing Fairfax County authorities to impose water restrictions on residents there. Crops withered in the parched fields of rural Maryland and northern Virginia.
The Potomac River dwindled to near record low levels.
The situation was compounded by last winter's severe cold, which kept the ground frozen for almost two straight months, preventing rain and snow from seeping into the ground and recharging the water table.
Substantial rainfall in July and August brought some relief, but much of the precipitation was in the form of flash thunderstorms with quick runoff and little "soaking" value to replenish the water table.
In September, only 32 inches of rain fell - the third driest September on record here - aggravating the drought conditions again.
It was not until well into October that heavy, soaking rains finally came to break the drought. The Occoquan Reservoir and Potomac River were gradually refilled and the water restrictions in Fairfax Country were lifted.
So far this year, a total of 31.24 inches of precipitation has fallen, still below the normal accumulation of 35-85 inches for the first 11 months of the year.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Potomac River averaged about 8.4 billion gallons a day at Little Falls during November, slightly more than triple the normal November flow of 2.7 billion gallons a day.
It was the highest monthly average since April when the river hit 13.8 billion gallons a day, following the winter thaw.
Altogether, it has been a year of extremes so far. First, there was record cold in January and February, including 48 consecutive days in which the temperature fell to the freezing mark, 32 degrees, or colder. On Jan. 17. the temperature dropped to 2 degrees, the coldest reading since Dec. 21. 1942, when the thermometer read 1 degree.
Then three was sweltering 95-to-100-degree heat in July and August that combined with heavily polluted air to leave residents prostrate. The Potomac Electric Co. set several "peak load" records of electrical output as its generators strained to meet unprecedented demands for air conditioning.
By summer's end, the temperature had reached or exceeded 90 degrees on 46 days, well above the normal of about 37per year.