D.C. area forecast: Icebox today, coldest since 1996; then gradual moderation to a warmer weekend

** Wind chill advisory immediate area through 6 p.m. | Wind chill advisory for N. Fauquier, Loudoun, and Frederick counties through midnight **

** Related info: Closings and delays | Staying safe in the cold | How the cold may rank locally | Polar vortex and climate change | Live blog on cold **

Temperature Map

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

10:15 a.m. update: Crowd-sourcing low temps! At the airports, the lows at Reagan National and BWI were 7 (coldest since 1996) and 3 (record low), respectively.

I asked readers around the region for their low temps (some are “waking up” temps, and not necessarily lows) and here’s a sampling:

Md.: Silver Spring -0.4, Gaithersburg 2, Poolesville 1.1, Montgomery Village -1, Westminster -4, -1 Germantown, Takoma Park 7, Kensington -2, Greenbelt 3, Rockville 1, Frederick 2, Laurel 4, North Bethesda 1, Hollwood 6, Ellicott City 2.5, Annapolis 7

Va.: Herndon: -2, Round Hill -1, Arlington 5 and 0.5 (two different reports), Leesburg -1, Strasburg -5, Sterling 1, Gainesville 5, Falls Church 2, Bristow 3.3, Manassas 2.3, Centreville 1.9, Purcellville 0, Fair Lakes 6.6, Dunn Loring 4.7, Clarendon 6, Alexandria 7, McLean 2, Burke 3, Fairfax 2, Broad Run 2, Vienna 3

DC: Friendship Heights 4, -0.2 Chevy Case circle (DC/MD), Columbia Heights 4, Adams Morgan 5, Chinatown 4 (roof top), Michigan Park 1.

(Note these temperatures are subject to user/measurement error)

In sum, temperatures ranged from about -2 to 7 in the D.C. area, with some colder readings to around -5 well north and west of town.

Note: We have no official temperatures at Dulles because of an equipment error according to the National Weather Service.

 

9:05 a.m. update: I just took a drive around northwest D.C. and my car thermometer read 4 degrees. Remarkably, Dulles Airport – which had been reporting readings between 7 and 10 degrees through 8 a.m., plunged to 3 degrees at 9 a.m., shattering the record for the date (8 from 1996). National Airport and BWI were up a couple degrees to 5 and 9 respectively. Winds are relaxing a bit, but wind chills are still between -7 and -14. Jason, CWG

8:00 a.m. update: The sun is coming up but temperatures are not budging.  It’s still 7 at Reagan National Airport (for the third straight hour) with a wind chill of -9.  BWI is stuck at 3 (with a wind chill of -10). Dulles is at 9 (with a wind chill of -4). Dulles’ 6-hour temperature report indicates it dropped as low as 7, a new record low for the date (beating 8 from 1988).

7:30 a.m. update: Generally speaking, air temperatures around the D.C. area are between about -2 F and 10 F, with wind chills between -5 and -20. It’s remarkably cold throughout the Lower 48.

Temperatures at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. CT) across U.S.

Temperatures at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. CT) across U.S. (Oklahoma Mesonet)

Wind chills at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. CT) (Oklahoma Mesonet)

Wind chills at 7 a.m. (6 a.m. CT) (Oklahoma Mesonet)

Teens extend almost all the way to the Gulf Coast, with subzero readings covering a huge section of the Upper Midwest, Ohio Valley, and Northeast. Sub-zero wind chills extend into Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Here’s one of our colder local readings:

7:00 a.m. update: At 7 a.m., temperatures held steady at Reagan National and BWI at 7 and 3 degrees respectively (wind chills were -9 and -16). Dulles bumped up to 10 degrees. That observation seems suspect. The National Weather Service in Sterling, which is in Dulles’ backyard, reported a temperature of 1 degree.

6:30 a.m. update: At 6 a.m.. Reagan National Airport was 7 degrees, the coldest low temperature in Washington, D.C. since 1996 (when it hit 5), with a wind chill of -10. The 7 degrees is 2 above the record low for the date from 1884. BWI Airport was just 3 degrees, a record low for the date, shattering the previous record of 8 from 1988. Its wind chill was -16. Dulles, interestingly, was a tad warmer, at 9 degrees, and a wind chill of -5. At 4 a.m., it touched 8 degrees, tying a record from 1988. Winds are generally sustained at 10-16 mph, and gusting to 20-25 mph around the region.

*** Scroll down below for the full forecast through the weekend ***

Today’s Daily Digit

A somewhat subjective rating of the day’s weather, on a scale of 1 to 10.

0
It will feel worse than zero this morning with a very nasty wind chill

Express Forecast

Today: Bitterly cold and windy. Highs: 11-17.

Tonight: Clear and very cold. Lows: 5-15.

Tomorrow: Partly cloudy, cold. Highs: 25-30.

FORECAST IN DETAIL

Wind Chill Map

Wind chills: Latest D.C. area wind chills. See more maps on our Weather Wall.

A powerfully painful arctic air mass cuts through our region today as the ballyhooed polar vortex passes by to our north early this morning.  The combination of very low temperatures and windy conditions means extremely unpleasant weather today, quite dangerous to anyone exposed to it for an extended period.  Wear lots of layers and limit your outdoor time as much as possible (more helpful tips here).

While cold tonight and even tomorrow, temperatures at least gradually trend warmer and winds die down.  Highs return to the 30s to near 40 on Thursday with 40s on Friday and 50s to maybe even 60 this weekend.  What a bounce!

pvpassby

Today (Tuesday): Super-chilled air greets us this morning with single digit lows with 15-25 mph winds from the west (gusts over 30 mph), causing morning rush hour wind chills well below zero (-10 to -25).  At least we get sunny skies today, but temperatures make little headway with highs ranging mainly from the low to middle teens. This will likely set records for coldest high temperatures on this date.  Wind chills might edge above zero by the afternoon, but just barely.    Confidence: High

recordlowmaxes

Tonight: Mostly clear and cold again, but the good news is that the winds slowly die down to rid ourselves of that wind chill factor.  Lows range from 5-14 (suburbs-city). Confidence: Medium-High

For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock. Keep reading for the forecast through the weekend…

Tomorrow (Wednesday): Sunny skies in the morning and partly cloudy skies in the afternoon as temperatures make a stronger attempt toward the freezing line.  Most areas won’t make it though as highs should range just from 25-30F.  Very light winds start coming from the south late in the day.  Confidence: Medium-High

Tomorrow night: Partly cloudy and less cold with lows in the upper teens to low 20s mainly.  Confidence: Medium-High

A LOOK AHEAD

Snow Potential Index

A daily assessment of the potential for at least ~1″ of snow in the next week, on a 0-10 scale.

1 (↓) Light stuff late Thursday looks weak if at all

Thursday continues our modest moderation in temperatures with highs ranging through the 30s (this should be the first time above freezing for most locations since Monday evening!) under partly to mostly cloudy skies.  Thursday night could see some light precipitation late as a mix of sorts (snow/sleet/rain).  Chance of precipitation is just 30%.  Lows in the upper 20s to low 30s.  Confidence: Medium

Friday may find some lingering mixed precipitation in the morning changing to light rain if it hangs around long enough (40% chance), but this system seems very moisture-starved at the current time.  Mostly cloudy skies most of the day with highs in the lower 40s.  Confidence:  Medium

The weekend is trending a bit wetter as of this writing, but at least it is also trending warmer.  Cloudy skies and showers are more likely Saturday, especially by afternoon into evening as a storm system and associated front arrive. Highs range through the upper 50s to even around 60F.  Lows Saturday night dip only into the upper 30s to low 40s.  Sunday sees some clearing skies as temperatures stay fairly comfortable for January levels (upper 40s to low 50s).    Confidence:  Medium

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