Cherry blossoms blooming near the Washington Monument on Feb. 23. (John Sonderman via Flickr )

When it seemed like the February warmth couldn’t get any weirder, it got weirder. Yesterday’s high of 75 — the fourth day of 70s this month — was the warmest the city has been this early in the year since the thermostat hit 77 in February 2011.

That 75-degree temperature might have been the start of a three-day stretch of 70s. If that’s the case, it will join two other years for the longest streak of 70s during the month. The monthly tally of days 70 or higher may reach as many as seven, which is generally unheard of at this time of year.

To top it all off, the city is also staring down the warmest February since records began in the 1870s.

Today’s high in the mid- to upper 70s could threaten a daily record of 78 set back in 1985. The records at both Dulles and Baltimore are 79, also set in 1985. Saturday’s records in the District and Baltimore are the all-time marks for the month, topping out in the 80s, which is quite unlikely, especially given a cold front moving through during the midday and afternoon.

Record-challenging streaks

Despite that cold front on Saturday, there’s a good chance the city ends up tying the record for the most 70-degree days in a row during this stretch. Yesterday was 75; today should be at least that warm, if not a few degrees higher; and tomorrow should be right around 70. The District has seen days in the 70s three times in a row in only two other Februaries, 1976 and 1874.

At Dulles there has never been a streak longer than two days of 70s in February. That’s already been done this month, and it’s going to be done again once today is through. If that location can manage 70 or higher Saturday, it’ll be a new record 70-degree-day streak for February.


February temperature difference from normal across the Lower 48 to date. (WeatherBell.com)

In the District, the record for the total number of 70+ days during the month is also in jeopardy. We had one earlier this month, as well as a few days ago. When February is all said and done, D.C. should have at least five days of 70 or higher this month and potentially as many as seven. In the former case, it would be the second highest number in February. In the latter, it would tie for first with February 1976.

While on the subject of streaks, it’s worth circling back to last week’s post to point out that on Tuesday the District missed extending a streak of 60-degree days that began Feb. 18. The high reached only 58 on Tuesday (Feb. 21). If it had hit 60, the District would have put together a February streak of eight straight days of 60+, shattering the old record of six. But unlike horseshoes, close doesn’t count in this game.

That said, if we care about days at or above 58 degrees in the same way we do about 60+, we could find validation in the fact that an eight-day streak of 58 degrees or higher for highs ties a record for the month.

While there’s a real cool-down coming this weekend, it won’t be a long-lived one, and we should still close out the month on a warm note. That could even include another 70-degree day on February’s final day.

A lock for the record-warmest February


(Ian Livingston/The Washington Post)

We can now state somewhat confidently that this month is likely to go down as the warmest February on record. The current top spot is held by February 1976, when the temperature averaged 46.9 degrees. This year, it seems our final average for the month should end up somewhere in the general range of 47.2 to 47.8.


(Ian Livingston/The Washington Post)

Breaking a monthly record for temperature is remarkable on its own, especially when you consider the D.C. area has plenty of company across the region and country. February 2017 is also set to become the eighth month since 2000 that is either the warmest or second warmest on record for the city. A full half-year of record warm months have come since 2010.

It makes you stop, smell the February flowers, and go “hmmm.”

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All NWS data obtained via ACIS.