On Saturday Washington officially experienced its first 90-degree day of the year, exactly one month before the generally acknowledged start of summer on June 21.
Moreover, by a comfortable, or perhaps uncomfortable three degrees, Saturday dislodged Friday from its brief reign as our hottest day of 2022.
By the same three-degree margin of thermal victory that brought triumph over Friday, Saturday fell short of Washington’s record high for May 21. That was 95 degrees, recorded 88 years ago, in 1934.
Much has changed since then, including methods of coping with Washington heat. That was clear from a glance at the edition of The Washington Post published the day after the record was set.
A light-hearted editorial suggested that the year’s first spell of warm weather had arrived, and that it was marked one day by the appearance of straw hats, the next day by abandonment of all hats, and the third day by the vanishing of vests.
In 1934, unlike this year, May 21 was a work day. The 95 degrees that day prompted a news story. It indicated that the heat led to relaxation in standards of decorum. It said persons returning from their jobs carried their coats over their shoulders, presenting “a shirt-sleeve spectacle.”
Meanwhile, at Dulles International Airport, which did not exist in 1934, Saturday’s temperature did reach record territory.
At Dulles, the same 92 degrees that fell short of a record in Washington matched a May 21 record set in 1996.
Of the three official measuring stations in the area, Baltimore appeared to be warmest, with a high of 95.That fell one degree short of the 1934 record for the date. But it nevertheless seemed respectably hot for a day in springtime.