Sometime about 3 p.m. Saturday, a strange, spherical object appeared in the sky above Reagan National Airport. The golden orb hovered overhead, throwing off heat and nearly blinding light. The people below responded by doing curious things.
A pair of college students plopped beach chairs onto the grass at Gravelly Point Park, just north of the airport’s runways, and basked like two turtles sunning on rocks (although the young women said they were, in fact, Georgetown Hoyas, not Maryland Terrapins).
The Connors family from Alexandria pulled cold drinks out of an ice chest they’d hauled from home and sipped away while watching planes roar past.
Tammer Ramini stopped his bike and yanked off his sleeveless shirt.
The first warm sun of the first weekend of spring had arrived, and the strategic planning consultant wasn’t about to let it go to waste. Not after what seemed like Washington’s longest winter — a snow-packed season that simply didn’t (and still doesn’t) want to quit.
“We need to enjoy the sun and warmth while we have it,” Ramini said between Frisbee throws with a friend. “We’re not out of the woods yet. Winter’s coming right back.”
The cruel coda will begin momentarily: After temperatures in the region rose into the mid-60s on Saturday (even higher in some areas), cold air is expected to return Sunday, with below-average temperatures that might scrape into the low 20s in some areas overnight, according to The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang.
Worse, perhaps: A major storm is expected along the East Coast early in the week. The Washington area might be spared, but the mere suggestion that a meteorological “bombogenesis” — some are calling it a potential “snow bomb” — could result in another round of heavy snow here is further evidence that winter 2013-14 was an endless bummer.
“Winter has its time and place,” Ramini said, noting that that place is not this close to April. “Enough with the snow.”
Shovels and Sorel boots and snow-throwers were out as recently as Monday, after winter’s last snowy gasp. It was the area’s third-biggest late-season snowstorm since 1888, when Washington weather records began.
Saturday, memories of winter melted away — eventually.
Temperatures were seasonably cool in the morning. It was 41 degrees at the Occoquan Reservoir shortly before the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association’s season-opening event began. Not for nothing is the event called the Polar Bear Regatta.
But by afternoon, landscapers in T-shirts were busy planting dozens of bright yellow pansies near an office building on K Street NW.
Tourists wandered around the White House perimeter with light jackets and sweaters tied around their waists.
On 14th Street, near the Washington Monument, a blue BMW convertible stopped at an intersection, its top down, its speakers blaring an old Billy Idol lyric: “It’s a nice day to start again.”
The National Cherry Blossom Festival was underway, and paddle-boat rentals were picking up on the Tidal Basin.
A double-decker Big Bus rolled up Constitution Avenue with more people sitting in the open-air upper level than in the enclosed level below.
Near the Federal Reserve, Mary Curtis got out of her car, which she had just driven from suburban Baltimore, and was startled by the springtime air. “Oh, it’s warm,” she said to her son.
She took off her fleece jacket and smiled.
“I missed this,” she said.