- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Crocuses and daffodils are arriving unfashionably early. Wool gloves and scarves useless. And morning after morning, through January and February, residents have peeked warily out bedroom windows to the unexpected gift of warmth and sunshine.
Has winter given up?
"Oh … no!" said Duane Thomas, relaxing on the mall during his lunch break. "We've still got March. And April. I've seen it snow in April."
He may be right. Weather service officials say the region is enjoying the warmest winter on record so far, but they forecast a cold surprise: Wintery temperatures are predicted for tomorrow.
The warmest winter on record before this year was the winter of 1931-32 where the region was coming out of a drought. That March brought two significant storms, said Barbara Watson, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
"Sound familiar?" she asked. "That year makes for an interesting comparison."
Since the country's founding, cold weather and snow in late winter March, April and even May has not been unusual. Four of the region's 15 worst winters over a 114-year period have been in March.
On May 4, 1774, George Washington noted snow showers and a cold northwestern wind from Mount Vernon, his home.
Almost 30 inches of snow hit Delaware and Maryland on March 20 -21, 1867; overshadowing it 21 years later was the Blizzard of '88, also know as the "White Hurricane." Beginning on March 11, the storm dumped half a foot to a foot of snow and ice, leaving the Baltimore-Washington corridor and surrounding area a blacked out, ice-entangled mess with tree limbs, electric lines and telegraph poles down.
In the 1800s and early 1900s, snow and cold temperatures were more common into March, April and even May. "Noreasters" dumped snow in Maryland in April 1914 and 1915. Other large storms in March and April were affectionately known as the "Inauguration Day Storm" (1909), the "April Fools Day Storm" (1924) and the "Palm Sunday Snowstorm" (1942).
More recently, the so-called superstorm of March '93 devastated areas from Florida and Alabama northward through New England. The entire State of Pennsylvania was buried under one to two feet of snow. Even Alabama saw as many as 13 inches. The storm was blamed for some 200 deaths and a few billion dollars in damage. Oxon Hill recorded eight inches of snow; 13 inches fell in the District and within the beltway; and 18 inches dumped on Frederick County, north and west of the city.
On March 9, 1999, a storm shook down six to 10 inches of snow from Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties west through the District, Northern Virginia and far western Maryland.
Many area residents are expressing gratitude for winter's reprieve but say they aren't quite ready to pack those winter clothes away.
Pat Adams, who has lived in the city for ten years, agreed with Mr. Thomas back on the mall. "I'm from Minnesota, so I usually expect the worst," she said. "It'd be nice if it stayed like this."
Her winter clothes are still in her closet.
Torrence Thomas of North Carolina has been in the city for only a year and still doesn't have many winter clothes. He thinks the warm weather is here to stay.
"I think winter's gone, except for those few days later this week," he said. "It's a shame, because I like winter, too."
The weather yesterday was just fine, though, for Alexander Ross, who sat in a guard booth outside the National History Museum on Constitution Avenue.
With the door to his booth wide open, Mr. Ross enjoyed the light breeze and fresh air but didn't think the weather would last.
"I think March is going to give us some pretty rough days," said Mr. Ross, who has lived in the District all his life. "We haven't had too much of a winter."
Weather officials said yesterday that with a cold front moving in, that impression is about to change.
"People are likely to say, 'Wow, this is like winter,'" Steve Zubrick, a meterologist with The National Weather Service, noted. "Generally, once you pay your taxes [April 15], you don't need to worry about snow."
Jon Ward contributed to this report.

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