Cold morning at Congressional Cemetery, March 29, 2015 (Jim Havard via Flickr)

It has been a long winter, with above normal snowfall and colder than normal temperatures.  February was especially brutal and, in March, winter hung on and hung on.  This past weekend more closely resembled January than late March with snow flurries, highs in the 40s and lows below freezing.

[Frigid February closes coldest since 1979 in Washington, D.C.]

But, today marks a turning point.  Although winter breathed enough chilled air for some snowflakes and sleet pellets to mix in with today’s pre-dawn showers, this afternoon we recover to near 60.

It is the end of winter as we define it: The point at which we no longer see the possibility of at least two straight days of cold weather* and/or accumulating snow.

The end of winter, however, does not mean we can’t or won’t have the occasional chilly day or even some non-accumulating snowflakes in the air.

“I’m still nervous about cold air in Eastern Canada,” says Capital Weather Gang’s Matt Rogers, who specializes in long-range forecasting. “If you give it a nudge, we could could still get some cold days out of it. There may be some days here and there that will still feel not so nice.”

This weekend, for example, some of that cold air could sneak into the region behind a cold front coming in.  We think it’s unlikely, but can’t entirely rule out some non-accumulating snowflakes in the air Saturday.

Last winter, just three days after we pronounced winter over, we had some surprise snow on March 30. So be forewarned, winter sometimes has tricks up its sleeves.

But the January-style cold we experienced this past weekend will not repeat again (this spring).  The GFS model ensemble forecasts highs at least in the 50s for the next 16 days:


GFS model ensemble forecast high and low for Washington, D.C. for the next 16 days (WeatherBell.com)

Confidence that the cold is truly behind us follows the upcoming weekend, when the pattern looks to switch to one that is mild through the middle of April:

* We define “cold weather” as highs in the 40s (or colder) and lows below freezing in Washington, D.C. (as measured at Reagan National Airport). In other words, an average daily temperature of 40 or lower.