The reading broke the old record of 70 set in 1991 and 1890.
The record warmth comes less than a week after Washington’s coldest weather of the winter. Just last Thursday, the temperature dipped to 10 degrees. In other words, Washington has endured a 64-degree temperature swing. If you factor in wind chill, the change is nearly 80 degrees.
At Dulles Airport, where the high was 72 degrees, the change in air temperature was 74 degrees from its low of minus-2 on Jan. 31.
The warmth in perspective
Feb. 11 is the average first day it has hit 70 over the last 30 years, and Feb. 5 is close to that. However, just since 2000, the average date of the first 70-degree day has moved up about 10 days from Feb. 20.
In the late 1800s, the average first 70-degree day didn’t occur until between March 7 and 10.
The length of the year in which Washington experiences 70-degree weather, based on its average first and last instance, has expanded from 250 days in the late 1800s to around 285 days now as the local climate has warmed.
While Tuesday’s high of 74 degrees is unusually warm, it is not the warmest so early in the season. On Jan. 26, 1950, it hit 79 degrees in Washington. It has hit 74 or higher this early in Washington in 12 of 148 years on record, including this one. Eight of those 25 years have occurred since 2000.
Tuesday’s high was the warmest so early in the calendar year since it was 77 degrees on Feb. 1, 2002.
February 2019 joins both February 2018 and 2017 in producing record warmth in Washington.
In 2018, record highs of 78 and 82 were set on Feb. 20 and 21, the latter the warmest temperature posted so early in the year .
In 2017, record highs of 73 and 74 were set on Feb. 7 and 8.