Thunderous Tuesday possible, but is it unusual for DC?

Mother Nature is rolling out the red carpet to spring weather in the D.C. area this week, with thunder, wind and record heat in the cards.

Though some may feel as though it’s too soon for afternoon rumbles and milder temperatures, the spring-like conditions aren’t unheard of for late February in the D.C. region.


Record winter warmth happens occasionally in D.C., so that’s not out of the ordinary.

Take Thursday’s forecast high in the upper 70s to low 80s.

The previous record we are challenging on Thursday occurred just last year when Reagan National Airport climbed to 77 degrees.


What about thunder rumbles in February? A front heading for the Mid-Atlantic Coast Tuesday afternoon promises to trigger a thunderstorm or two from D.C. north into Pennsylvania.

One or two storms from Philadelphia to New York City could actually generate gusty winds.

The National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia, issued a wind advisory for much of the D.C. area until 7 p.m. Tuesday, warning of sustained winds from the west of 20-35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph.

Turns out, February thunderstorms have happened in the past in D.C.

Digging back through observations at Reagan National Airport since the early 1970s, thunder has been noted in late February (specifically, during the year’s eighth week) in eight previous years. Those years include 1990, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2012, 2016 and 2017.

Thunderstorms reported by week of the year and hour of the day at Reagan National Airport from 1971 to 2022. (Courtesy of IEM).

Snowfall in those winters was quite variable, so thunder in February can’t be connected to a snowless winter in D.C.

Historically, thunderstorms are most common between 4 and 8 p.m. from mid-June to mid-July.

Stay tuned to WTOP for the latest on the changeable weather with forecast on the 8’s.

Chad Merrill

Chad Merrill is a meteorologist and digital weather content producer for WTOP. Prior to joining WTOP, Chad was a meteorologist in the private industry and television. He loves to share his passion with listeners and readers and is eager to hear from anyone who has any weather questions!

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