A peony in the rain on May 22. (Victoria Pickering/Flickr)

Washingtonians have not only been confined by the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks, but also by a prolonged stretch of unusually cool and rainy weather.

Since April 10, the D.C. area has seen almost three times as many days in the 50s and 60s as it has in the 70s and 80s. On roughly half of those days, it’s rained.

Our temperatures over the past six weeks have most resembled typical spring levels in the San Francisco Bay area, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

For the better part of the past 40 days and 40 nights, dreary weather has ruled.

But changes are coming, and in about a week, many may have forgotten about this dismal stretch.

Before we preview the warmth, let’s take a closer look at just how cool and wet it has been.

Temperatures

Over the past six weeks, temperatures have averaged four to five degrees cooler than normal, which ranks among the top 10 to 15 coolest such periods on record, dating from 1871.

Since April 10, here’s how high temperatures have been distributed:

  • Highs in the 50s: 11 days
  • Highs in the 60s: 20 days
  • Highs in the 70s: 9 days
  • Highs in the 80s: 3 days

Over the past month (since April 22), we’ve had only 10 days at or above 70, 10 fewer than average, which is tied for the second fewest on record.


Temperatures compared to averages and extremes since April 10. (National Weather Service)

We’ve yet to see our first 90-degree day, whereas our average first such occurrence is on May 17.

Rain

Since April 10, nearly eight inches of rain has fallen in Washington, with measurable amounts occurring on 21 of the 43 days and trace amounts on six other days. The rainfall between April 10 and May 22 ranks as the 13th most on record.


Rain in 2020 compared to averages and extremes since April 10. (May 22 rainfall not displayed) (National Weather Service)

Before Friday’s rainfall of over half an inch, the previous week (May 15 to 21) was our longest stretch without measurable precipitation, although it was mostly cloudy for much of the time with cooler-than-average temperatures.

While April was unusually wet, May’s rainfall is actually running a little below average so far.

Looking ahead

The absence of weather in the 70s and 80s is about to end. In fact, from Saturday onward, the average of computer model forecasts indicate every day should surpass 70, with 80s most common.

It’s about time, as the average high in Washington reaches 80 degrees by May 31.

In other words, we’re about to hit a switch, flipping us from spring gloom to sweet summer.


Forecasts temperatures for the next two weeks based on a blend of simulations from the European, American, and Canadian modeling systems. (StormVistaWxModels.com)