The Washington Post

D.C. cold stretch: Long by recent standards, but near an end

The graph above shows the first eight days of the month relative to normal. Diamonds are actual high and low temps, the lines are the averages. Today will fall at least several degrees below normal as well.

November is running a whopping 7.9 degrees colder than usual in Washington, though still has yet to log its first official freeze (most spots outside the city have recorded one now).

Examining temperature differences from average for this cold stretch through Thursday, the eleven days we’ve already logged in the negative category fall just shy of the 12 from March 23 to April 3, 2011 for lengthiest in any period going back to then. As noted, we seem likely to tie that departure streak today.

Everyone who was here remembers the 2009-2010 winter, highlighted by Snowmageddon and a number of other storms in that period. We have to go back that far, to January 29 through February 18, 2010 — a three week stretch — to find a recent cold pattern that lasted longer than either the current or the 2011 one.

November to date

Temperature average for the first eight days of the month of November, by year, 1981-2012.

The first eight days of November, D.C. have had an average temperature of 45.4 degrees. 1993 is the most recent year with an average temperature almost as cold in that same stretch, at 45.6 degrees. Just two years prior, 1991, had a colder start to November. That month featured a daily average of 45.3 degrees through the first week plus a day. It’s the only year with a colder start to November in the last 32 years.

Does a cold start to November tend to lead to a cold month?

It may, but not necessarily. Take 1991’s slightly colder start, and roll it through the rest of the month — we see a temperature average of 48.8 degrees, which is less than a degree below normal.

Additionally, both the coldest November all time (1880) and the coldest at DCA (1976) started warmer than this November. 1880 was much warmer, with a November 1-8 average temperature of 53.5 degrees. There’s plenty of month to go.

A look ahead

Happily, for people like me searching for at least a little more mild air before we dive into winter, there is good reason to believe that our temperatures are on the way up for a while.

Outlook for the day 6 to day 10 period from the Climate Prediction Center.

In the shorter range, as discussed in Camden’s forecast this morning, the weekend into early next week should see temperatures rise into the well above average (now near and dropping below 60 for highs) range, with readings even approaching or eclipsing 70 degrees by Sunday.

However, the typically fast-moving fall pattern looks to bring changeable conditions by midweek and a cool down. Regardless of that potential, after today I think it’s fairly safe to say the worst of the current cold pattern is behind us.

Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank.


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