In the Washington area, bright skies pro­vide a sharp look at fall’s col­ors

But on Fri­day night, thun­der­storms of­fered a re­minder of sum­mer

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - BY MARTINWEIL martin.weil@wash­post.com

In many ways, Satur­day in the Washington re­gion was the day the pre­vi­ous Satur­day could have been, if it hadn’t been for the gray skies, rain and the chilly tem­per­a­tures. But the skies were largely blue, rather than gray, and the sun was much in ev­i­dence, and it had both the ap­pear­ance and the feel of fall.

In Shenan­doah Na­tional Park, the fall color up­date, posted Fri­day for the week to come, told prospec­tive park visi­tors what they pre­sum­ably wished to hear.

“If you’re look­ing for gold,” the park staff re­ported, “you’ll find it in Shenan­doah Na­tional Park this week.”

It ap­peared that the forested slopes of the park have not yet reached their sea­sonal peak.

At higher el­e­va­tions, while driv­ing to­ward the cen­ter of the park, al­most ev­ery color on the fall pal­ette may be seen, it was re­ported, “in­clud­ing, still, plenty of emer­ald green.”

As the re­gion headed deeper into au­tumn, it has been cast­ing aside many of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the warmer weather sea­sons.

On Fri­day night, one of sum­mer’s weather sta­ples made its pres­ence known. Thun­der­storms rolled into the re­gion and then out again, but not be­fore jagged streaks of light­ning coursed across the late-evening skies in a vast re­lease of pent-up at­mo­spheric energy.

It poured in Rockville and in the Dis­trict. At Rea­gan Na­tional Air­port, where the of­fi­cial mea­sure­ments are com­piled, a fast four-tenths of an inch fell, most of it be­tween 7 and 8 p.m.

When the line of stormi­ness had passed, it seemed as though the area had en­tered a new sea­son, or at least a new phase of au­tumn.

The high tem­per­a­ture Fri­day at Na­tional fell only a sin­gle de­gree short of 80. By con­trast, the high tem­per­a­ture there on Satur­day was 66, which was 13 de­grees less and four de­grees be­low nor­mal for Satur­day’s date.

In ad­di­tion, fed­eral weather fore­casts for the two weeks through Oct. 24, show noth­ing com­pa­ra­ble to Fri­day’s 79. In­stead, the high­est read­ing they pre­dict is 74 de­grees on Mon­day. But the ma­jor­ity of the pre­dicted high tem­per­a­tures are in the 60s, with 61 and 60 show­ing up sev­eral times.

Another sta­tis­ti­cal sign that cooler weather looms shows up in the record books. On Sun­day, the record high tem­per­a­ture for Washington is 90 de­grees, a read­ing made Oct. 11, 1939.

Be­tween Sun­day and the end of the year, there is no day on which the mer­cury has reached as high as 90.

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