PM Update: Staying super cold through tonight, but winds ease; adios polar vortex

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

Temperature Map

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

Despite morning lows performing as expected, afternoon temps rose higher than the forecast. Of course, they were still squarely in the frigid zone — mostly between 15 and 20 degrees. With a high of 21 degrees and a low of 6 degrees, D.C. falls just behind Feb. 5, 1996 for “coldest since” when it comes to the daily average. Fortunately the whipping wind becomes less of a factor moving forward, but we’ve got another very cold night ahead.

Through Tonight: Mostly clear. Lows should range from the single digits in the coldest suburbs to the low-or-mid teens downtown. Not a big drop from the day, but we didn’t start too high! Winds subside substantially after dark, blowing around 5-10 mph early, but heading toward calm late at night.

Tomorrow (Wednesday): It’s a bright day, and after our really cold start it probably feels much nicer than today. Highs should head up near 30, perhaps a bit higher in the preferred “warm” spots. The big plus is light winds from the south, only around 5 mph.

See Matt Rogers’ forecast through the weekend. And if you haven’t already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter . For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock.


A bubble freezes in Arlington VA this morning. (Jenn Vogel via Flickr)

Record cold: Take a look at today’s Arctic chill and how it happened across the area:


(Graphic by the Washington Post)

The final numbers are in, and D.C. missed records on both sides but had its coldest low since 1996. The low was 6 degrees and the high 21 degrees. At Dulles, the low was 1 degree and the high 18 degrees. Both new records. At BWI, the low was 3 degrees and the high 16 degrees. Both new records.

And read more on one of the coldest days in decades, the track of the air, and what those booms you might have heard were.

See ya, PV: The piece of the polar vortex that’s been impacting much of the U.S. is falling apart and moving away, but not before causing Chicago Zoo polar bears to stay indoors and creating some sweet photo ops. While we’ll be in no major hurry to warm up, it’ll start to feel noticeably better by tomorrow, and heading back above normal by the weekend.

Of course, some are already talking about a sequel… But that’s at least 10 days off, in model la la land.

Finally, an interesting factoid on today’s cold from the Weather Prediction Center…

Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank.
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