Since Christmas Eve, the D.C. area and much of the eastern United States has been locked in a deep freeze. Remarkably, the temperature has plunged into the teens in the District on nine of the past 10 mornings. Two more such frigid mornings are to come.
But there is warm light at the end of this cold, dark tunnel. Some might even call it a torch.
Next week, the weather pattern is going to flip. Instead of a cold-East, warm-West configuration, we will have the reverse. The jet stream, which has plunged over the East allowing Arctic cold to spill south along its path, will seesaw, allowing mild air from the southwest to surge north.
Temperatures will respond to this pattern change by thawing in a glorious way. We may be near 50 by Tuesday and in the vicinity of 60 on Friday.
Both the American and European models forecast the potential for 60-degree weather next Friday. Of course, these forecasts become less reliable with time. Hopefully, they are not fools’ gold. But, even if we don’t see 60 degrees, it’s safe to say temperatures will average above their normal highs in the low 40s next week. When the average high over the past 10 days has been in the upper 20s, that’s progress.
I must end with a word of caution, however. Seldom does Arctic air exit gracefully.
On Monday, a storm system will track through the region as the cold air is starting to erode. Some model simulations earlier this week had predicted a nasty, wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain. With the ground so cold, that would be trouble.
However, the latest models suggest the system will be weak and that temperatures should warm above freezing before precipitation moves in late Monday, except well north of Washington. Most likely, this means just some plain, light rain in the immediate D.C. area.
But if the precipitation arrives earlier than models are forecasting on Monday, we could still contend with some icy weather — especially in our colder areas north and west of the District. This is something we’ll be watching this weekend, so stay tuned to the forecast.