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DC climbs to record-breaking 80 degrees no more than a week after it got clobbered by snow

By Mary Gilbert, CNN Meteorologist

(CNN) — Washington, DC, is on a weather rollercoaster and there’s no getting off.

Just a week after the nation’s capital got clobbered by snow and highs struggled to reach the low 30s, two of the area’s main weather reporting stations smashed records on Friday afternoon as temperatures surged to May-like levels.

The weather station at Reagan National Airport hit a staggering 80 degrees and could climb even higher before the day is done. This isn’t just a record for the day – it makes Friday DC’s warmest January day on record.

Additionally, the toasty reading is now the earliest 80-degree calendar day for the city by nearly a month, crushing the record previously held by February 21, 2018.

Washington Dulles International Airport also logged a new record for the history books when its weather station hit 79 degrees. This reading eclipsed the old daily and monthly high temperature records at the airport.

A normal high temperature for the DC area in late January is 45 degrees. Highs near 80 are more common for the capital starting in late May.

The eastern half of the country is experiencing a dramatic warm-up after a pattern change in the upper levels of the atmosphere that’s allowing tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico to push north. The weather whiplash comes after scientists announced earlier this month that 2023 was the warmest year on record, as planet-warming pollution continues to surge from fossil fuel use.

DC’s record-breaking temperatures also come on the heels of its snowiest period in years. Last Friday, 3 to 6 inches of snow fell across the DC area, ending a record streak of more than 700 days without an inch of snow falling in a single day.

The winter storm followed several days in which high temperatures struggled to approach 32 degrees. Low temperatures plummeted even further, reaching the single digits in some spots as recently as Tuesday morning.

Friday’s warmth is fleeting, though. Temperatures will return to near-normal this weekend as rain also moves in; highs on Saturday will be in the mid-50s, and Sunday in the high 40s.

CNN Meteorologist Taylor Ward contributed to this report.

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