- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

Convertible tops came down. Shorts went on. And outdoor lunch breaks, sometimes accompanied by ice lattes and ice cream, extended past their time limits.
In December.
Across the Washington region, residents yesterday opened their doors to record-breaking, springlike weather.
"Gotta love global warning," said Nancy Fessler of McLean, reading in the sunshine in an Alexandria square. "No, really, it's a pretty day. I am just taking advantage of it."
She sure did. She wore shorts.
The National Weather Service said temperatures yesterday at Washington Dulles International Airport reached 77 degrees, breaking the 1998 record by two degrees. The cause: a ridge of high pressure moving along the East Coast is blocking strong weather systems from bringing in cold weather, according to meteorologist Dewey Walston of the National Weather Service.
That's good news for people such as Beth Grossman, who cruised Alexandria's King Street in her Silver Mustang convertible with the top down. "It's great," she said of the warmth.
Others weren't so happy about the unseasonably balmy weather.
Edwan Cruz, who sells Christmas trees on New York Avenue NE, worried that the trees would lose their needles prematurely. "When it's hot, the trees dry up faster," he said. "Still, customers want Christmas trees whether it is hot or not."
Ken Schaetzle, a U.S. Patent Office worker, said he misses the cold of his native Iowa. "I'm a cold weather fan," he said, taking a break from work on the Mall. "I like snow. It isn't really Christmas without it."
Warmth felt like home for 56-year-old Vernon Sargusingh of St. Lucia. The Caribbean native yesterday worked in his front yard on Taylor Road in Riverdale Park, hammering 3-foot-long candy canes into his lawn. He wore a T-shirt and a wool hat.
"It's great," he said. "I'm from the islands, and you have this weather 12 months a year. It's almost like being home."
The metropolitan area resembled several different places yesterday, depending on who was speaking.
Jin W. Chung, 51, a cabinetmaker from Korea, leaned over his woodwork outside of a soon-to-be completed Outback Steakhouse in Prince George's Plaza. "In Korea, the weather is just like here," he said, his forehead glistening with sweat.
Meanwhile, the National Zoo swarmed with visitors, and zoo officials estimated their numbers at 3,000, twice the number of animal watchers on Tuesday.
"We've got many more people here than usual," said zoo spokesman Mike Morgan. "This is so California."
Hordes of what Mr. Morgan called the "stroller brigade" mothers with small children strolled through the zoo. The afternoon light filtered through the barren trees and the air stood still without a trace of humidity as couples walked close together and children ran excitedly from one animal to the next.
Krista Clapp was part of the stroller brigade with her 3-year-old son, Steven, as part of a zoo-sponsored class. She wished for snow.
"I didn't think it would be this hot outside," she said. "We've got our long sleeves on, and we're not ready."
Snow would have kept most zoo animals inside. But yesterday cheetahs, zebras, giraffes and elephants were active and visible for most of the day. Tian-Tian, the male panda, took a shower.
Construction and road-repair crews took advantage of the weather to make headway on projects. Laying asphalt is usually impossible this time of the year, but road crews busily went about their work.
The weather is keeping water-main crews busy. Alton Proctor and his Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission Systems Enhancement team worked to replace an old water main in Riverdale.
Mr. Proctor, 45, said the erratic weather can take a toll on water mains, especially older pipes, which are made of cast iron and burst easily. "That's when we get real busy, when the ground contracts and expands," he said.
The weather suited him just fine, said Mr. Proctor, who was dressed in shorts. "I'm perfectly happy," he said.
He likely will be again today, when Mother Nature is expected to give an encore performance.

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