The sun sinks lower on the horizon and the mercury drops. In Washington, winter’s steep decline kicks into high gear in December before bottoming out in late January and early February and making a steady — if not occasionally turbulent — ascent into spring.

From the coldest day record — 15 degrees below zero, recorded on Feb. 11, 1899 — to one of the warmest ones — with a record high of 98 degrees registered nine weeks ago on Oct. 2 — Washington’s historic temperatures during the colder months fluctuate wildly. The average, however, have been trending warmer in recent years.

Here is the shape of winter according to nearly 150 years of temperature data from the District’s official weather station, which changed from 24th and M streets NW to National Airport in 1945.

The coldest day? Depends on how you count it. The coldest average high is about 42 degrees in mid-January. In the last couple decades, the last few weeks of January have been the coldest.

10-day rolling averages

High since 2000

Low since 2000

High since 1872

Low since 1872

80º

60º

40º

32º: Freezing

20º

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

The first week in February is the coldest average low, around 26 degrees, but since 2000, the coldest week has been the last week in January.

The coldest day? Depends on how you count it. The coldest average high is about 42 degrees in mid-January. In the last couple decades, the last few weeks of January have been the coldest.

10-day rolling averages

High since 2000

Low since 2000

High since 1872

Low since 1872

80º

60º

40º

32º: Freezing

20º

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

The first week in February is the coldest average low, around 26º, but since 2000, the coldest week has been the last week in January.

The coldest day? Depends on how you count it. The coldest average high is about 42 degrees in mid-January. In the last couple decades, the last few weeks of January have been the coldest.

Oct. 2, 2019, was the warmest October day

on record 98 degrees

90º

Oct. 16 has topped out at 68 degrees 15 times since 1872.

80º

10-day rolling averages

High since 2000

Low since 2000

High since 1872

Low since 1872

70º

60º

50º

40º

32º: Freezing

30º

By the second week in April, lows are mostly above freezing.

The most frequent low on Dec. 4 is 29 degrees.

20º

10º

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

Feb. 11, 1899, was the coldest

on record: minus-15 degrees.

The first week in February is the coldest average low, around 26 degrees, but since 2000, the coldest week has been the last week in January.

Oct. 2, 2019, was the warmest October day

on record: 98 degrees

90º

Oct. 16 has topped out at 68 degrees 15 times since 1872.

10-day rolling averages

80º

High since 2000

Low since 2000

High since 1872

Low since 1872

70º

The coldest day? Depends on how you count it. The coldest average high is about 42 degrees in mid-January. In the last couple decades, the last few weeks of January have been the coldest.

60º

50º

40º

32º: Freezing

30º

By the second week in April, lows are mostly above freezing.

The first week in February is the coldest average low, around 26 degrees, but since 2000, the coldest week has been the last week in January.

The most frequent low on Dec. 4 is 29 degrees.

20º

10º

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

Feb. 11, 1899, was the

coldest on record

minus-15 degrees

Oct. 2, 2019 was the warmest

October day on record:

98 degrees

90º

Oct. 16 has topped out at 68 degrees 15 times since 1872.

10-day rolling averages

80º

High since 2000

Low since 2000

High since 1872

Low since 1872

70º

The coldest day? Depends on how you count it. The coldest average high is about 42 degrees in mid-January. In the last couple decades, the last few weeks of January have been the coldest.

60º

50º

40º

32º: Freezing

30º

By the second week in April, lows are mostly above freezing.

The most frequent low on Dec. 4 is 29 degrees.

20º

The first week in February is the coldest average low, around 26 degrees, but since 2000, the coldest week has been the last week in January.

10º

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

Feb. 11, 1899 was the

coldest on record:

minus-15 degrees

The coldest period in Washington is traditionally from mid-December to the end of February, when the average lows slip below 32 degrees. Our winters are traditionally on the milder side compared to neighboring areas.

How D.C.’s temperatures compare

with other East Coast cities

Raleigh, N.C.

Philadelphia

Normal range

1981-2010

80º

70º

60º

D.C.’s normals

50º

32º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

Boston

New York

80º

70º

60º

50º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

Pittsburgh

80º

70º

60º

50º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

How D.C.’s temperatures compare

with other East Coast cities

Raleigh, N.C.

Philadelphia

80º

Normal range

1981-2010

70º

D.C.’s

normals

60º

50º

32º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

Boston

New York

80º

70º

60º

50º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

Pittsburgh

80º

70º

60º

50º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

How D.C.’s temperatures compare with other East Coast cities

Raleigh, N.C.

Philadelphia

New York

80º

Normal range

1981-2010

70º

60º

D.C.’s normals

50º

32º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

Boston

Pittsburgh

80º

70º

60º

50º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

How D.C.’s temperatures compare with other East Coast cities

Raleigh, N.C.

Philadelphia

New York

Boston

Pittsburgh

Normal range

1981-2010

80º

70º

60º

D.C.’s normals

50º

32º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

How D.C.’s temperatures compare with other East Coast cities

Raleigh, N.C.

Philadelphia

New York

Boston

Pittsburgh

Normal range

1981-2010

80º

70º

60º

D.C.’s normals

50º

32º

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

O

N

D

J

F

M

A

Snowfall in the area is trending downward over the past century but big storms are becoming more intense. Although the deepest snow recorded occurred in 1899, the winters of 2010 and 2016 are some of the snowiest on record.

Days most likely

to have snowfall

Snow depth since 1888

30 in.

20

10

0

10%

20%

OCT

NOV

2009

DEC

Average date of

first inch: Dec. 23

1996

JAN

1922

Knickerbocker

storm

2016

2010

1899

1961

FEB

1979

Average date of

last inch: Feb. 26

MAR

APR

Days most likely

to have snowfall

Snow depth since 1888

30 in.

20

10

0

10%

20%

OCT

NOV

2009

DEC

Average date of first inch:

Dec. 23

1996

JAN

1922

Knickerbocker

storm

2016

2010

1899

1961

FEB

1979

Average date of last inch:

Feb. 26

MAR

APR

Snow depth since 1888

Jan. 31 is the day when D.C. is most likely to have snow on the ground.

1899

30

inches

1922, Knickerbocker storm

2010

Average date of first inch: Dec. 23

20

Average date of last inch: Feb. 26

2016

2009

1996

1961

10

0

Days most likely to have snowfall

Historical chance of a white Christmas

A little more than 10 percent

10%

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

20%

Jan. 20 and 25 are tied for the snowiest days of the season: Each has had measurable snow in 19 percent of years since 1888.

Chart shows the share of days since 1888 to have measurable snowfall.

Snow depth since 1888

Jan. 31 is the day when D.C. is most likely to have snow on the ground.

1899

inches

30

1922, Knickerbocker storm

2010

20

1996

Average date of first inch: Dec. 23

Average date of last inch: Feb. 26

2016

2009

Longest stretch with one inch or more on the ground: 29 days, Jan. 20 to Feb. 17, 1961

10

0

Days most likely to have snowfall

Historical chance of a white Christmas

A little more than 10 percent

10%

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

20%

Jan. 20 and 25 are tied for the snowiest days of the season: Each has had measurable snow in 19 percent of years since 1888.

Chart shows the share of days since 1888 to have measurable snowfall.

Snow depth since 1888

Jan. 31 is the day when D.C. is most likely to have snow on the ground.

The deepest snow came in 1899 after several consecutive days of accumulation.

30

inches

1922

Knickerbocker

storm

Multiple storms in 2010 left more than 21 inches of snow. It stuck around for weeks.

25

Average date of first inch: Dec. 23

20

Average date of last inch: Feb. 26

1987

1996

1979

2016

15

2009

Longest stretch with one inch or more on the ground: 29 days, Jan. 20 to

Feb. 17, 1961

10

5

0

Days most likely to have snowfall

Earliest measurable snow on record: Oct. 9-10, 1979, with 0.3 inches

Latest measurable snow on record: April 28, 1928, with 0.5 inches

5%

Historical chance of a white Christmas

A little more than 10 percent

10%

15%

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

20%

Jan. 20 and 25 are tied for the snowiest days of the season: Each has had measurable snow in 19 percent of years since 1888.

Chart shows the share of days since 1888 to have measurable snowfall.

We’ve yet to have major accumulation this year. The first inches of snow are most likely to be seen around the end of December and the beginning of January.

The weather data used in this analysis comes from NOAA and ACIS and goes back to 1872.