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Punishing cold and wind to invade D.C. area Saturday night, most brutal of winter

High altitude temperature difference from normal Sunday morning shows pool of frigid air parked over Mid-Atlantic. (

A one-two punch of arctic air promises to blast the Washington, D.C. metro region Thursday night into Friday and Saturday night into Sunday.  The second punch, call it a knock-out blow, is likely to be the most severe of the winter and comparable to the cold blasts during the painfully cold winter of 2013-2014.  Not only will temperatures crash into the single digits in many areas but winds will also be absolutely fierce.

The first blast of cold arriving Thursday night and Friday will be biting, but comparable to other arctic outbreaks we’ve experienced this winter. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary.  After the responsible arctic front and a few snow showers zip through the region Thursday morning, temperatures begin to slowly fall in the afternoon.  They plunge Thursday night, with lows dipping into the teens throughout the area.  Factoring in winds at 15-25 mph, gusting over 30 mph, it will feel close to zero Friday morning around the city and a bit below that in our colder suburbs.

Highs Friday struggle into the upper 20s to low 30s with wind chills not escaping the teens for much of the day.

There’s a very brief reprieve in the cold Saturday as temperatures ride up through the 30s ahead of the next and more potent arctic front.  But then, following another round of snow showers (in the afternoon to early evening period), temperatures tank.  If you’re out Valentine’s Day evening, be prepared for rapidly falling temperatures from near 30 into the teens by midnight.  Winds will also start to crank, with wind chills falling to near zero.

The core of the cold infiltrates the area by Sunday morning when lows range from the high single digits to low teens.

The cold on Sunday will be complemented by raging winds.  The GFS model suggests the potential for sustained winds of 20-30 mph and gusts of 40-50 mph Sunday morning.

Wind chills Sunday morning may drop to -5 to -15 across the region, and struggle to get much above 5 degrees even during the afternoon.

This is dangerous cold and anyone spending extended time outside should cover exposed skin.  Pets should not be left outside for long durations.

Highs on Sunday, according to both the European and GFS model, are probably stuck in the teens – at least in our west and north suburbs.

GFS model forecast for high temperatures Sunday 

European model forecast high temperatures Sunday

The coldest readings likely coincide with President’s Day morning, when most spots drop into the single digits.  The wind will have diminished somewhat by then, fortunately, so wind chills will be less of a factor.

GFS model forecast for low temperatures Monday morning

European model forecast low temperatures Sunday morning

Temperatures likely remain below freezing on Monday, but then begin to moderate just in time for the next storm system on Tuesday which may feature mixed precipitation changing to rain.