The Washington Post Sunday

Not quite the clear, blue skies of 20 years ago


Every day has its weather, and each day’s skies and weather probably deserve to be judged on their own merits. Certainly, Washington’s Saturday showed many merits and much of meteorolog­ical note.

In parts of the sky, at times during the day, we could be pardoned for claiming to see a certain hazy quality, a milkiness, an indistinct­ness.

This may have been a message on the atmospheri­c telegraph about far-off woodland fires.

On Friday, “a milky color” was filtering into our skies, the local office of the National Weather Service said in a tweet.

“This is high-altitude wildfire smoke,” the tweet added.

More of it is expected, according to the Weather Service.

Saturday’s skies seemed to present to us what we perhaps wished to see in them. Moments of the brightest blue and brilliant sunshine certainly appeared.

We could also see fleets of clouds, both billowing and flat bottomed, both light and dark, as if the warehouses of water vapor held an open house. All of their products, the flimsy and the more substantia­l, seemed to float by at various levels.

In the official observatio­ns of the Weather Service, the skies were inscribed as mostly cloudy, or occasional­ly partly cloudy.

Perhaps such scrutiny of the sky might seem excessive on a random day in September. But Saturday was not a day on which the sky could escape notice.

People who were here on Saturday’s date 20 years ago may recount a variety of observatio­ns. But a great many also recall the contrast between the glittering beauty of the day and the terrible events that occurred.

The skies on that day seemed deep blue, brilliantl­y blue, unambiguou­sly clear, free, it seemed, of any cloud or uncertaint­y.

To compare Saturday’s weather with that of 20 years ago seems to be asking much of any September day in Washington.

Interestin­gly, however, for all the remembered crispness, Saturday may have been the cooler day, even if only slightly. Saturday’s high was 80; according to the Weather Service, in 2001, it was 83.

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