The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Our unsummerlike Saturday could have been another season

In the middle of August, Washington’s long history of heat and humidity, of sweat by day and swelter by night, bears at least some responsibility for the proliferation of vacations and the popularity of beach resorts.

But on Saturday, despite its proximity to the calendar heart of August, it seemed likely that visitors would find our vaunted heat nothing to write home about. Our high was only 84.

And as for the humidity, it seemed to have quietly decamped from city and suburb.

In the morning, Washington temperatures spent hours in the 60s, an invigorating realm that has been little visited here by the mercury this summer.

On only two of the 31 days of July did we have a single minute with a temperature below 70.

Before Saturday, only one day this month had such a temperature, and that was Friday, a day that shared many of the desirable qualities of Saturday.

Until Friday, we had endured 31 consecutive summer days, without an official minute below 70. But on Saturday, Washingtion happily hosted the 60s for at least seven hours in the morning.

Saturday almost seemed part of a newly discovered season. Perhaps it represented a rerun of late spring, blended with a hint of early autumn.

It surely seemed to have little in common with what we expect from sultry August.

Confirmation of Saturday’s dry, no-sweat status came from the dew points.

In late afternoon, these numerical indicators of human comfort registered in the uncommonly comfy 40s.

Those low dew points may be read to say that any stray drop of perspiration would be whisked away and swallowed up by the thirsty air around us.

With water vapor almost absent from our air, so too was the typical haze through which we see the scenes of summer.

With summer’s softening haze not visible, the brilliance of the summer sun, still high in Saturday’s ultra-blue skies, seemed to beam with maximum intensity

Its light gave what seemed to be a surpassing brightness to the quiet streets and sights of what almost seemed a city at its summer emptiest.

Leaves and lawns seemed almost iridescent in their radiant greenness, and the city’s brick and stone, its glass and asphalt, all seemed to present themselves with the sharp clarity of a winter day, but in summer sunlight.