- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

Spring was in the air if not on the calendar yesterday, as temperatures topped 70 degrees in the District, capping the holiday vacation season with a day in the sun.

By noon, the temperature had reached 65 degrees Fahrenheit at the Mall. Joggers in shorts hustled along the paths, children in short sleeves flocked to the carousel, and couples strolled hand in gloveless hand as if it were springtime.

“It’s beautiful,” said Lisa Glufling, 34, who was out with her boyfriend walking their Portuguese water dog, Charlotte. “We normally come down to the Mall but made a special effort today. It feels like spring.”

The balmy conditions even coaxed the bulbs in Miss Glufling’s front yard into blossoming. “They are going to freeze when next week hits,” she said. “[But] this is a nice way to end the vacation before returning to the real world.”

The temperature yesterday did not break the record high for the date, which was set in 1997 when the temperatures peaked at 73 degrees. But many said they couldn’t remember the last time it had been so warm around the New Year’s weekend.

A large dome of high pressure over the Atlantic Ocean and warm southwesterly winds were responsible for the weekend’s respite from winter weather. The conditions aren’t expected to last, and the weather already should be cooling off today, said a National Weather Service forecaster.

The service predicted a high of 56 today and a low of 35 tonight. Rain and overcast conditions this morning are expected to give way to partly cloudy skies by this afternoon with wind gusts as high as 39 mph.

Christi Cline had warned visiting in-laws to expect brittle temperatures and biting winds but wound up buying them some spur-of-the-moment warm-weather garb yesterday for an outing to the monuments and museums along the Mall.

“This is better than bundling up and running,” said Mrs. Cline, 35, as her husband and the visiting relatives relaxed on a park bench and watched her 5-year-old son, Elliot, ride the carousel.

“I didn’t expect to be strolling and hitting the carousel,” she said. “We brought family up here last Christmas and froze.”

Others appeared to be ill-prepared for the unseasonably warm weather.

Peter Schaefer, a New England transplant who never has adjusted to Washington’s fickle forecasts, was wearing a T-shirt under a long-sleeve wool shirt under a fleece zipper-up as he toured museums with his family.

“But I didn’t wear a hat,” said Mr. Schaefer, 62. “It’s nice and warm.”

Jennifer O’Neil, a 35-year-old D.C. resident out for a power walk, had stripped down to a T-shirt and sweat pants. Her long-sleeve workout shirt and windbreaker were tied around her waist.

“I’m actually a little hot right now,” she said. “I overdressed. I’m going to go home and put on a pair of shorts.”

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