Bundle up, D.C. region. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

A freeze warning is in effect across the D.C. region on Friday as temperatures are dropping throughout the day. Winds are gusting to 30 mph behind a significant autumn cold front, making it feel about 10 degrees colder.

Overnight, temperatures will drop to the 20s across the area, including inside the Beltway. “Freezing temperatures will damage or kill sensitive vegetation,” the National Weather Service said. It’s also just going to be really, really cold Saturday morning.

The lingering warmth through September and October makes this week feel especially jarring. But Friday night’s “first freeze” is in fact historically late, as we wrote earlier this week:

In Washington’s western suburbs, we’re now three weeks behind schedule for the first freeze. In some places, that’s as late as it’s been in more than half a century. Even so, in the urban center of Washington, a freeze in the days ahead would be the earliest since 2006 and more than a week ahead of schedule.

Normally, the first autumn freeze occurs by mid-October in the city’s western suburbs. While a few spots saw a light frost in the back half of October, none of Washington’s major climate stations have officially hit 32 degrees. This is an increasing oddity as we head into the second week of November.

A first freeze occurring on Nov. 11 is a week earlier than normal in Washington’s urban areas but several weeks later than normal in its colder suburbs. At Dulles Airport, if temperatures do not drop below freezing before Saturday morning, this year’s freeze will tie 2005 for the latest on record.

This Arctic blast already set records in the Upper Midwest on Thursday, when the temperature fell sharply below zero after the sun went down.

Chicago set a record low in November for the first since 1991, dipping to 18 degrees, which tied the record for the date. Many other locations in the Midwest set record lows:

Records are also possible — though not quite likely in the D.C. region Saturday morning:

  • At Reagan National Airport, the record low is 26 from 1973 and 1901. The predicted low is around 27 or 28 degrees. Chance of tying or breaking record: 20 percent.
  • At Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the record low is 21 from 1973. The predicted low is right around 21. Chance of tying or breaking record: 60 percent.
  • At Dulles Airport, the record low is 16 from 1973. The predicted low is around 20. Chance of tying or breaking record: 5 percent.

If National Airport falls to 26 degrees or lower Saturday morning, it would rank among the top 10 coldest temperatures so early in the season in recorded history. Considering the airport rarely establishes record lows anymore, it would be quite remarkable. The airport hasn’t set a record low in November since 1976 (on Nov. 9).

Freezing temperatures will persist for many hours Saturday morning. In our colder areas north and west of the Beltway, temperatures will fall below freezing shortly after sunset Friday and remain below freezing well into Saturday morning.

“The last places to fall below freezing will be the urban centers and shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River, but even these areas will reach the upper 20s by dawn Saturday,” the National Weather Service said. “The coldest spots may fall into the upper teens.”

The record cold possible in the Washington area is tied to an expansive area of Arctic air predicted to be centered over New England on Saturday. Record low temperatures are expected across the Northeast.


Forecast low temperatures Saturday morning from the National Weather Service. Areas circled are predicted to be within a degree of the record low for the date. (WeatherBell.com)