Ahead of a strong cold front, temperatures surged to near 70 in the D.C. area.  You still have most of tonight to enjoy unseasonably mild conditions, but early December reality returns Friday, with temperatures stalled near 50 as rain gradually moves into the area.

Through Tonight: The evening more closely resembles September than December, with temperatures gradually slipping into the 50s.  Overnight, there’s a slight chance of showers (20-30 percent chance, highest chances in our western suburbs), with lows near 50.  Winds are from the south at around 10 mph.

Tomorrow (Friday): Cloudy and noticeably cooler.  The cold front sneaks through in the morning, holding temperatures near 50 for much of the day.  In the morning, there’s a 30 percent chance of showers, with a 50-60 percent chance of steadier rain moving in by late afternoon. Yes, it may be rainy for the Christmas Tree lighting, but there’s a chance it holds off until a bit later in the evening. Winds are from the north at around 10 mph.

See our write-up on Sunday’s winter storm potential. And if you haven’t already, join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter . For related traffic news, check out Dr. Gridlock.

A rare, snowy owl was photographed today in Prince Frederick, Md. (Calvert Co.). An omen? (Donna L. Epstein-Cole via Facebook)

Europe storm: An intense storm has struck western Europe with hurricane-force winds and historic coastal flooding in the eastern United Kingdom:  Writes Andrew Freedman at Climate Central:

The storm, which has been named Windstorm Xaver by the Free University of Berlin, has already brought a storm surge of at least 9 feet to locations along the eastern shore of Great Britain. In response, the government has issued nearly 30 “severe flood warnings” — the highest alert category — along with hundreds of other flood advisories, and has taken extraordinary steps to prevent flooding in populated areas.

Freedman says storm surge flooding has also been reported in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and southern Scandinavia. Read his full story: Windstorm Xaver Hits Europe With Massive Storm Surge

The UK Met Office blog has compiled wind gust reports ranging from 80-90 mph at low elevations, and exceeding 130 mph at remote, mountainous locations.

Here’s a video of the storm from Scotland: