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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/31/2010

Back-door cold fronts and historic weather

By Jason Samenow

Book preview: Weather Whys

* Spectacular spring stretch starts: Full Forecast *

Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities. Image courtesy

Meet Paul Yeager, meteorologist and editor, who earlier this month published the book Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities. The book offers a treasure trove of short weather vignettes, covering weather folklore, weird phenomena and weather history. I invited Paul to blog about a couple topics in his book relating to Washington, D.C. weather. Here's what he had to share with us...

I'm Paul Yeager: author, blogger, and contributor to AOL News. The Weather Gang was kind enough to invite me to write a guest blog about my new book Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities.


In the Weird Weather chapter of Weather Whys, I mention one of the annual disruptions of spring in the Washington area: the back-door cold front. For residents of D.C., it might not seem so strange or hard to understand--the Atlantic Ocean is slow to warm, so when the wind turns east or northeast during the spring or early summer, it's going to stay cool here while areas farther inland and perhaps much farther to the north (such as Buffalo or Montreal) enjoy beautiful spring weather. Fortunately, there are no back-door fronts in the forecast this week!

Keep reading for some Washington, D.C.-related topics in Paul's new book...

Cold fronts arriving from the east certainly seem strange to residents in most other parts of the country where cold or cool air always arrives from the north or west. But some of their weather, such as snow (and skiing!) in Hawaii or wild fires large and hot enough to actually cause rain-bearing thunderstorms to form, might seem strange to us.


The weather affects all of us in many ways, including ways in which we don't normally think of. That includes our health, home, and transportation, as well as myths that we, ourselves, might perpetuate. I've included all of these in the book, along with how weather has affected famous sporting events and historic events, which has a direct tie, of course, to Washington.

For instance, some historians question the widely held belief that President William Henry Harrison died because of exposure to cold related to his long Inaugural address. In fact, he may have gotten sick too long after the Inauguration for it to have been the cause of his demise. It's also interesting to note that actor-turned-politician Ronald Reagan had both the warmest and coldest Inaugurations on record. That sounds like Hollywood melodrama!

A couple of the other historic events, even though they didn't happen in D.C., that are noteworthy are the weather for the signing of the Declaration of Independence (sunny with low humidity--a rarity in Philadelphia in July) and even how a raging storm may have aided General George Washington when he crossed the Delaware on Christmas night in 1776.

I could go on, but I'm supposed to be a guest blogger, not a guest book, and if you have any questions, drop me an e-mail ( or stop by my blog Cloudy and Cool.

By Jason Samenow  | March 31, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Books  
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Next: PM Update: Spring weather in full bloom


very interesting - thanks for the info...

Posted by: madisondc | March 31, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

What can be done to make life more user-friendly for the Washington DC tourist, please, as far as displaying the temps in degrees F are concerned? The US is the only country using Fahrenheit and it's very hard for tourists to convert F to C. May I suggest every time a temperature is quoted in your text that you place the equivalent Celsius figure in brackets after it? It would make the tourist so much more comfortable reading the Washington Post and elsewhere. Thanks for reading my input.

Posted by: mjoy1 | April 1, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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