Winter cold returns; snow drought continues

FOX 5 Quick 5 Points:

1) A strong cold front will approach the region Thursday. After some scattered early morning showers, high temperatures will peak in the early afternoon and temps will fall the second half of the day.

2) After a break today (Wednesday), winds will get gusty once again during the second half of the day Thursday and persist through Friday. Expect gusts between 20-30 mph in the city, with highlands to the west seeing the potential for 40mph+ gusts.

3) Temperatures this weekend will be seasonal, meaning high temperatures ranging from the upper 30s north and west of town to mid-40s closer to the metro area. While cold, we are not talking extreme cold here.

4) The northwest winds mean the lake effect snow machine will be cranking for the westward facing slopes. 1 to 3-inches is possible for northern portions of the mountain west on Friday, with an additional 1 to 3-inches on Saturday.

5) Snow chances do exist closer to the I-95 corridor with perhaps a very isolated flurry on both Friday & Saturday with the chance for more widespread snow showers on Monday, but at this time weather models do not show any major snow events looming in the near future.

Wednesday marked two straight weeks that Washington, D.C. has failed to hit the freezing mark, which is extraordinarily rare given that those two weeks historically are our coldest period of the winter. Currently there have only been six total days in January where temperatures at Reagan National Airport have dropped below the 32 degree freezing mark. This is second to only January of 1932, which had only four freezing days. With an additional four days below freezing currently in the forecast before the end of the month, we will likely end up with the seventh fewest freezing days on record for the month of January.

While far from what the D.C. region is used to in January, winter is bound to return soon or later. On Thursday night, it will do just that. High temperatures Thursday will likely hit their peak during the early afternoon before taking a plunge during the second half of the day. For many around the region, temperatures may be warmer when you head to work or school than when heading home in the early evening. Winds will pick up during the second half of the day with gusts at times around 30 mph and higher in elevated regions to the west of town.

By Friday, the majority of the region is waking up to temperatures in the 20s and 30s with afternoon highs peaking in the 40s. The weekend brings more of the same, with some of our northwest suburbs failing to break the 40 degree mark in the afternoon. The coldest day of the pattern looks to be Monday, when a reinforcing shot of cold air leads to D.C. spending most of the day in the 30s. Teens and 20s are to follow for the early morning hours of Tuesday. This is by no means extreme cold, especially not by January standards. Instead, it's a taste of normal in a month which has been anything but normal to this point in time.

Of course, the question on everyone's mind is "where is the snow?" as there is no denying the region has suffered from a snow drought so far this winter. In our area, only St. Mary's County, the Eastern Shore, and portions of the Northern Neck of Virginia have seen any decent snowfall amounts this season. Unfortunately, snow chances are not what we would call "great" over the course of the next week for those living in the metro region. Both Friday and Saturday bring the risks of flurries, but these will be few and far between and are not a threat for any accumulation. Monday may bring the possibility of scattered light snow showers as a stronger piece of upper level energy crosses the region. Details are still a little gray at this point. As things stand for now, it looks more like an event that may give a select few a coating and most of the region nothing. Beyond that, we are keeping our eye on a potential clipper during the Tuesday/Wednesday time frame next week. Weather models are still debating whether or not this will have an impact on our region or if it will pass harmlessly to the north.

At this point in time - this is the latest in the last four years the D.C. area has gone into the snow season without picking up an inch of snow. However, there is still some hope for snow lovers. Historically, the biggest snow events for this region have tended to come during the month of February. During years with similar global atmospheric patterns, snow risks extended into March, as well. As always, the weather team will be watching the skies and let you know if anything significant begins to head our way as we approach typical "peak" storm season.

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