The DC area will see the most significant impacts from this extreme weather pattern after a cold front moves through on the back end of the Great Lakes storm on Friday. Temperatures will drop below freezing and winds will pick up, and we can’t rule out some snow showers or showers. Washingtonians will experience the coldest weather of the season so far.
A bit of a wintry mix is possible early Thursday
As the storm system moves into the area Thursday, we could see some wintry precipitation in the area, provided it’s early enough in the day. Even if that happens, any sleet, snow or freezing rain will likely be short-lived and focused west of the Interstate 95 corridor.
With temperatures above freezing by the time precipitation arrives, the winter weather potential of this frontal system appears less dangerous than last Friday’s storm, which brought mostly rain to the region (except for some freezing rain in the far west and northwest).
The milder temperatures are largely the result of high pressure moving off the northeast coast before the storm arrives, which helps create a warmer wind flow from the ocean. The storm center is expected to be stronger than last week, which should help deliver abundant and relatively warm southerly winds ahead of an Arctic front that won’t arrive until Friday.
At the Baltimore/Washington Weather Service office, western areas of our region are under a risk of wintry weather Thursday and Friday, but no risk in the immediate area. Anything in the way of significantly disruptive winter weather should be confined to the highlands to our west.
After nearly 2 inches of rain late last week, another inch or two looks poised to visit later this week.
The heaviest rain is late Thursday through Friday morning. There may even be a chance of thunderstorms Friday night or Friday, given the heat and humidity moving north ahead of a cold front.
Here are some recent models for precipitation in the range for both DC and the local area in parentheses.
- European ECMWF – 0.9 inches (0.75-1.5 inches)
- American GFS – 0.9 inches (0.75 to 1.5 inches)
- Canadian GEM – 1.2 inches (1 to 1.5 inches)
Washington received 2.41 inches of rain in December, compared to an average of 3.41 inches for the entire month. The next storm should push the city near and above normal for precipitation this December.
When and how much will the temperature drop?
Friday will be a wild day for local temperatures. Readings in the mid-50s to near 60 appear to be a good bet east of the Blue Ridge in the morning as the storm center rotates across the Great Lakes and a strong cold front approaches the region.
Current weather modeling shows the front moving through Washington around midday, with temperatures dropping rapidly soon after. Numbers may drop below freezing in western parts of the area in the afternoon, then in DC and east by sundown.
As cold air moves into the area, it will cool quickly enough for the precipitation left behind the front to turn into snow. It’s not likely to rain much at this point, but some flurries, snow showers or a brief blizzard may pass through. Under the right conditions, a coating can stain.
Friday night, the region is looking at locally cold single digits and wind chills below zero in northern Maryland, as well as highs to our west.
As the cold front moves through Friday, winds will briefly reach 50 mph, which could bring down trees and power outages in wet ground. Winds will be 30 to 40 mph in the evening. Winds will likely drop into the upper 20s Friday night.
Wind chills are likely to remain brutal through the weekend, with winds of 20-30 mph expected on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Odds will be more on Saturday and juniors on Sunday.
Coldest Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in decades
By Christmas Eve morning, low temperatures will reach 20 degrees below average without rising much during the day. Mid-20s to mid-30s afternoon highs seem like a decent target for now.
Christmas morning will be even colder, with minimum temperatures ranging from around 10 to 20. Afternoon values may be less freezing than Saturday, but the area should stay at or below 32 degrees for the second straight day. upper 20s and lower 30s.
Average temperatures in the city for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be a high of 47 degrees and a low of 33 degrees.
The last time both were in the 30s was in 2004. We look back to 1999 to find that the last time the temperature didn’t rise above freezing on either day was 1999. Right now, 2022 looks like the coldest year for a two-day holiday. In 1989, when highs reached 23 on Christmas Eve and 29 on Christmas Day.
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