PM Update: Arctic push tonight; coldest December day in 3 years tomorrow?

Temperature Map

Temperatures: Latest D.C. area temperature map. See interactive map on our Weather Wall.

While not warm, today ended up a good deal milder than most expected as highs rose to near 40 many spots. Given the near-full sunshine and fairly light winds, not too bad at all. A cold front headed towards us from the west delivers a more bitter chill tomorrow.

Through Tonight: Our next cold front, currently over the Ohio Valley, will swing through overnight. That may mean a period of increased cloud cover in the hours around and after midnight. Winds will also become more noticeable from the north around 10 mph, with higher gusts, after is passes. Lows range from the upper teens to the low 20s — maybe mid-20s in a few spots.

Tomorrow (Thursday): This is one of those days where morning temperatures struggle to go very far as cold air continues to filter in behind the front. Winds are gusty throughout, sustained around 10-15 much of the day, and peaking around 20 mph midday. Highs are mostly in the 26-30 range despite a good deal of sunshine. Morning wind chills may be in the single digits west of the city, only rising into the teens and near 20 during the day across the area.

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Forecast maximum temperatures during the 6 hours ending 7 p.m. on Thursday from today's European model run.  Raw model temperatures tend to run a little cold it seems, but even adding a few is brrrr. (Weatherbell.com)

Forecast maximum temperatures during the 6 hours ending 7 p.m. on Thursday from today’s European model run. Raw model temperatures tend to run a little cold it seems, but even adding a few is brrrr. (Weatherbell.com)

Very chilly: Tomorrow is going to be cold. How cold? Let’s start with the fact that 2012 and 2011 had no highs in the 30s in December. We’ve already seen two this year, and we average seven under current historical averages. If D.C. remains 33 or below tomorrow, it will be the coldest December day since the 26th in 2010 when the high was 33. If we stay below 33, the next recent low maximum to shoot for is 27 on the 16th of December 2010. In the unlikely scenario the high is even colder, we’d go back to December 2005 (26) or 2004 (24). When it comes to lows, the coldest we’ve been in December recently was 21 in 2010, and 16 in 2008.

Also on Capital Weather Gang

About the chance of wintry weather Saturday, and the outlook beyond