Arctic cold front brings wind, cold, ‘dangerous wind chills’ to DC area


The D.C. area is about to get run over by an arctic cold front that will give you a sentimental feeling of a White Christmas because it’s cold outside. Here’s what you need to know.

The D.C. area is about to get run over by an arctic cold front, and give you a sentimental feeling of a white Christmas, but it would just be a feeling. Here’s what you need to know.

Expect wind, cold and dangerous wind chills on Friday, Storm Team4 meteorologist Steve Prinzivalli said. The culprit is a powerful low-pressure center over the Midwest.

Friday starts off cloudy, with temperatures starting in the 40s. Then comes the rain again just before daybreak, followed by the eastward-sweeping arctic cold front.

“As winds shift from the south to the west behind the front, bitter air will flood into the area and the rain showers may end as snow showers in the mid-late morning but we do not expect much accumulation,” Prinzivalli said.

Friday night will see temperatures plummet into the 20s, with whipping winds of up to 20-30 mph, and gusts of more than 40 mph. There’s a wind advisory posted Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as:

  • A Flood Warning for Northern Virginia until 2:30 a.m. Friday
  • A High Wind Warning for areas along and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • A Wind Chill Advisory for the D.C. area from 7 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday. (The first one since 2019, Prinzivalli said.)

The combination of frigid air and nasty winds will produce bone-chilling and dangerous wind chills below zero Friday evening and into early Saturday.

Any chance for a White Christmas?

It would be a miracle, but the forecast for the holiday weekend will be “nasty cold,” Prinzivalli said.

Clouds will give way to feeble sunshine Christmas Eve, with temperatures struggling to reach the middle 20s and gusty winds that will place wind chills near zero and the single digits.

Christmas Day will be sunny but frigid, with highs in the 20s and wind chills in the teens.

High pressure, the source of the arctic air mass, will settle into the area for the new workweek. With that added pressure, the winds will diminish, but it will still be cold, with highs in the lower 30s Monday and then the middle 30s Tuesday.

How far away you roam on the roads

Maryland and Virginia warned drivers to avoid travel on Thursday in areas with higher elevations that saw snow, sleet and icy roads.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state activated its emergency response operations in anticipation of the winter weather. He called for Marylanders to be prepared and adjust their plans as necessary.

As of Thursday afternoon, Grantsville in Garrett County, Maryland, has already received over 5 inches of snow, and whatever is left over on Friday can be expected to harden overnight.

Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration spokesperson Charlie Gischlar said elevated roadways, such as bridges, ramps and overpasses will be where motorists will find most slick spots. Crews will be out patrolling the roads through Friday, he added.

“We’re going to have what we call a ‘flash freeze’ in some areas; there’s going to be a lot of moisture associated with this storm. So anything that does not have a chance to dry out will freeze (Friday). So we’re going to be cognizant of that, especially on the bridges, ramps and overpasses and be doing our shifts, putting out the materials to make sure the roads don’t freeze up,” Gischlar said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the District Snow Team plans to have 28 salt trucks on standby starting Friday morning in preparation for icy surfaces and light snow Friday morning.

The Virginia Department of Transportation also had some tips for anyone venturing out onto the roads.

“Motorists, if traveling, should pack an emergency kit and blankets, and have mobile devices fully charged in the event of a breakdown or emergency,” the Virginia Department of Transportation said.


Friday: Mostly cloudy with rain showers returning toward dawn. Temperatures in the 40s. Later, mostly cloudy with rain showers ending, as snow showers arrive in the morning. Blustery and turning sharply colder. Temperatures tumble from the 40s into the 20s. Winds south to west at 15 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. Wind chills are 0 to -10.

Saturday, Christmas Eve: Clouds giving way to sunshine, but blustery and frigid conditions. Highs in the lower 20s. Winds west at 15 to 25 mph. Wind chills in the single digits.

Sunday, Christmas Day: Mostly sunny, breezy and bitter. Highs in the middle 20s. Wind chills in the single digits and teens.

Monday: Mostly sunny and cold but with a lighter breeze. Highs in the lower 30s.

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