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WEATHER: Midwinter Cold Arrives Tuesday

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Posted at 10:59 PM, Nov 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-17 23:39:16-05

The coldest air so far this season will move into Virginia tonight through Tuesday, sending Virginians scrambling for their heaviest winter clothing.

The reason for the cold is the southeastward push of a very deep upper-level trough shown in the image below, allowing arctic air to overspread areas that generally don’t see this measure of cold until later in the season.

The trough is centered by low pressure over the Great Lakes right where the “507” circle lies.

That number, and the others on the image, indicate the height of the 500 millibar pressure level, and 507 is very low and very cold.  The trough axis will shift east over the next 12 to 24 hours, driving the cold air into central Virginia.

500trough

The blast of cold air we received late last week was just a preview of the two-day chill we have ahead of us.

Our high temperatures will be set at midnight tonight, and will continue to fall throughout the day Tuesday.  The graphic below shows the daytime highs I expect us to see on Tuesday.

Northwest winds of 10-20 mph, with higher gusts, will bring us a wind chill that will lower the feel of these temps by 7 – 10 degrees.  The wind chill in Richmond will likely never get above freezing.

Zach State Fcst Lows to Highs

We received a range of 0.75″ to 1.5″ of rain today, and most but not all of that moisture will evaporate tonight.  What moisture remains early Tuesday will have a change to freeze between 6 AM and 8 AM, leading to a few slick spots.  Most of these areas will be limited to surface streets and places where shallow standing water occurs.

I don’t expect this to be a widespread problem, but if you encounter what appears to be wet stretch of road in your morning commute, treat it as though it were ice.  Below are the rainfall totals from today, as estimated by Doppler radar.

raintotals

We needed the rain, and it held off until after the weekend.  That’s some great news.  Even better, we didn’t see anything like this (See below).  This picture of a waterspout was taken this afternoon by a viewer and uploaded to the WAVY facebook page (and then mine).  It developed in a severe thunderstorm very near the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel.

Waterspout

OK, back to the cold.  The center of high pressure will settle southeast, bringing us our coldest morning on Wednesday.  Our coldest so far this season was on Saturday, when we dropped to 26.  I expect us to trump that easily, falling to 20 by Wednesday morning.  The record for Wednesday is 18 degrees, set back in 1936.  Below are expected lows for Wednesday morning.  Outlying areas of the Richmond metro will likely fall into the upper teens.

Lows

If the cold is not your thing, hang in there, we’ll see a warm up late this weekend into early next week.  I expect our high to be near 60 on Sunday, and in the low 70s on Monday! For frequent updates on our quickly changing weather, follow me on twitter @ZachDanielCBS6 and like my Facebook page ZachDanielCBS6