Climate Summary for National Airport
Washington lies at the western edge of the mid Atlantic Coastal Plain, about 50 miles east of the Blue Ridge Mountains and 35 miles west of Chesapeake Bay, adjacent to the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Elevations range from a few feet above sea level to about 400 feet in parts of the northwest section of the city.
Observations have been kept continuously since November 1870. Since June 1941 the official observations have been taken at Washington National Airport.
National Airport is located at the center of the urban heat island. As a result, low temperatures are the highest for the area. Differences between the airport and suburban locations are often 10 to 15 degrees. There is less variation in the high temperatures.
Summers are warm and humid and winters are cold, but not severe. Periods of pleasant weather often occur in the spring and fall. The summertime temperature is in the upper 80s and the winter is in the upper 20s. Precipitation is rather uniformly distributed throughout the year.
Thunderstorms can occur at any time but are most frequent during the late spring and summer. The storms are most often accompanied by downpours and gusty winds, but are not usually severe. Tornadoes, which infrequently occur, have resulted in significant damage. Severe hailstorms have occurred in the spring.
Tropical storms can bring heavy rain, high winds and flooding, but extensive damage from wind and tidal flooding is rare. Wind gusts of nearly 100 mph and rainfall over 7 inches have occurred during the passage of tropical storms and hurricanes.
Major flooding of the Potomac River can result from heavy rains over the basin, occasionally augmented by snowmelt, and above normal tides associated with hurricanes or severe storms along the coast. Flooding may also occur after a cold winter when the Potomac may be blocked with ice.
Although a snowfall of 10 inches or more in 24 hours is unusual, several notable falls of more than 25 inches have occurred. Normal snowfall during the winter season is 18 inches.
The average date of the last freezing temperature in the spring is April 1 and the average date for the first freezing temperature in the fall is November 10.
Name Washington LOCATION Duration Remarks
The Naval Observatory was never an official weather site for Washington 24th & E Sts., NW July 1, 1842 - end of 1892
Current Naval Observatory Mass. Ave. NW Began on 09-01-1891 Data through 1902
U. S. Senate on Capitol Hill 07 1, 1838 - 06 30, 1842.
Start of the Weather Service 1719 G St., N.W. 11-01-1870 - 08-14-1888
1744 G St., N.W. 08-15-1888 - 03-21-1889
2416 M St. N.W. 03-22-1889 - 06-30-1941
The City Office, still in DC 2416 M St. N.W. 06-30-1941 - 03-04-1942
The City Office, still in DC - City readings were here 2400 M St., N.W. 03-05-1942 - 01-01-1966 Closed
National Airport 6/16/1941 Started
National Airport & considered the official Washington D.C. wx. station 7-1-1941 - Present Official Wash. Stat.
Other first order in the Washington, D.C. area
Name LOCATION Duration Remarks
Silver Hill, Md Branch Ave. 10-1-1950 - 12-31-1953
Forecast Office site at Sterling, Va. 1-10-1961 - 10-18-1965
Dulles Airport 11-16-1962 - Present
BWI 7-23-1950 - Present
Baltimore's Airport location Essex Ended 07-22-1950
Custom House Began 01-01-1871