Ready or not…winter is coming! 5 things to know about the cold air outbreak headed our way

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Brace yourselves! Here are the top 5 things you need to know about the cold air outbreak later this week.

1) Just In Time For The Weekend

We are not necessarily in store for the warmest first half of the week either, but the real change will not arrive until either late Thursday night or Friday morning (depending on what weather model you look at). Clouds and showers and possibly even a few snowflakes (no accumulation) will precede the cold front. The cold will then settle into the region on Friday and Saturday, which both look to be deceptively sunny and bright.

2) Coldest Air Since Last Winter

We are talking some mid-winter cold, even though it will only be mid-December which is technically late autumn. The first "official" day of winter is not until the winter solstice which falls on December 21st at 5:44 a.m. Temperatures both Friday and Saturday afternoons are expected to struggle to make it out of the 30s, something that did not happen at all in Washington, DC last December. February 15th of this year was the last time afternoon temperatures did not break the 40° mark. Get those winter coats ready!

3) The Winds of Winter

December is a battleground month. The southern half of the United States remains pleasantly warm while Arctic cold starts to build across Canada. When these air masses clash, they rarely do so quietly and calmly. Winds by Friday afternoon may gust between 30-40 mph at times, even higher in the highland west of town. When you combine with lows in the 20s and 30s, Saturday morning could end up feeling like the teens and perhaps even a few single digit wind chills over the mountains. For those around the region still playing Saturday football or soccer, prepare for what may end up being the coldest December morning in 2 years.

4) Any Signs of Snowfall?

We will certainly be cold enough for snow this weekend, but this morning's various weather models are not showing any strong signs for big snowfall. The past couple of days, weather models were hinting at the possibility of a clipper system pushing through the region and perhaps bringing some snowfall on Sunday. Today's models changed the track of that system, keeping it well north of the region. Even if the track did change course and head in our direction, it would not be a major snow for the DC region. While the snow lovers will be disappointed by this news, we are still a little early as far as snow in DC is concerned. The average date of first measurable snowfall over the past 10 winters has been December 29th. Forecasting snow more than a week in advance is extraordinarily difficult however. With the cold pattern sticking around, each week will bring with it new challenges. So be sure to stay tuned!

5) Is The Cold Here To Stay?

Yes and no. We are a little more than a month away from what is typically our coldest time of the year. While there will be variations, generally speaking next week looks like it will be on the colder side of things as well. Beyond that lies a more questionable period. Extended range guidance is beginning to hit at a break down to Arctic blocking during the second half of the month, potentially leading so some above normal temperatures during the week leading up to Christmas. However at that time of the year, even 5 degrees above average is still only the upper 40s. So while the strong cold does not appear to last, it does look as though this weekend will be the transition into seeing more and more winter temperatures around the DC region.

Hey…only 105 days until spring! Stay warm out there.

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