Weather and Climate in DC
Are you thinking about moving to or relocating to Washington DC and wondering if you can handle living here?
In this video, I’ll tell you all about DC’s weather. You’ll learn about what it’s like to live in the area, as well as what to expect from the weather, storms, flooding, hurricanes, and allergies.
DC is situated in the mid-Atlantic region. We’re not quite the north, but not quite the south. Generally the climate here is described as mild and that can mean many things so we’ll break all of that down. Right now it’s March. So far this winter we have not had any snow at all. I wouldn’t quite say that’s typical because it’s been a mixed bag. There are winters where we don’t get snow at all, there are winters where we think we won’t get snow and then in March we get a snowstorm. There are winters where we have gotten 1-2 feet of snow in a single storm. Temperatures can be in the 20’s but usually most of winter is in the 30’s and 40’s. It’s not below freezing here in DC.
Now as we head into Spring, we can expect some unseasonably warm days. Last week the temperatures hit close to 80 one day – definitely not the normal temperature for this time of year. It retreated back to the 40’s soon after but it left many of us teary eyed, for early heat brings up some flowers and messes with the Cherry Blossoms here. They are currently determining when the “peak bloom” will be.
Spring is mostly tolerable, with mild to warm temperatures in the 50’s to 70’s. We get lots of rain and thunderstorms in April and May. Spring is also when most people’s allergies kick into gear. Most allergies that are pollen related are due to the trees. If you’re like me and you can make it through spring okay but then later in spring and into summer you get hit, congratulations, you’re allergic to grass. (Not the kind you smoke.) (Oh my god I’m really dating myself here.) And the classic end of summer allergen is ragweed.
Speaking of Summer, this is where the real DC lovers stand up to the test. It gets hot and humid here and people really seem to hate it. Complaining about the humidity is a great pastime here. When I see old photos of DC in the 1800’s I wonder how they survived in all those layers of clothing they wore in this unbearable heat and humidity. Temperatures get to 100 but often top out around 90 degrees most days. By mid summer if it’s only 80 degrees, it actually feels cold if you’ve been used to 90 degrees and higher with full humidity.
Here’s what’s awful about summer. Mosquitoes. These little suckers bite and they bite quickly and often. And they are tiny. Not like the no-see-ums in Florida, but pretty darn close. I’ve been standing on my porch and looking down to see 10-20 of them on my legs. I live in bug spray and we have our yard sprayed by one of our lovely neighbors who owns Mosquito Strikers.
Something else that is possible to occur in spring or summer are torrential rains that result in flooding. We’re a low-lying city, and parts of our city are at sea level. The first settlements in DC were Georgetown’s waterfront and Old Town Alexandria and their waterfront. Those two areas will be flooded if the rain becomes too much for the storm drains and river to handle. This is not a yearly occurrence but it does happen where roads that run close to the Potomac are flooded, and roads leading down toward the river like Chain Bridge on the Virginia side of the river can flood unbelievably quickly.
Last summer we were in Tyson’s Corner eating lunch and it started to rain when we got back in the car. It was 20 minutes back to our house in DC. Were it not for our Jeep Wrangler, best car ever, we wouldn’t have gotten home. Everyone was stuck on the bridge but we made it through. Take that, Lexuses. Sorry if you have a Lexus.
Summer used to end like clockwork in late August or early September when I was growing up in Connecticut. There would always be a chilly fall-feeling night in the first few days of September. That does not happen here in DC until much later in September, if at all. Fall doesn’t start until October. Usually by Halloween it’s warm enough that the kids don’t have to put a jacket on top of their costumes like I had to in Connecticut. It would be 30-40 degrees on Halloween back then!
Fall is a great season here. There are some allergies, some residual smells of stinky mulch but the leaves change colors and it’s almost as beautiful as New England’s trees. Maybe just as beautiful. Temperatures are in the 50’s and 60’s through most of October and into November.
I hope this gives you a good idea of what the weather is like year-round here in DC!