It looks like we'll get a taste of some true winter weather this weekend. A bit of snow and a cold blast will move into the region. When I say a "cold blast" in our area, we'll experience temperatures, finally, below average. Highs will be in the 30s with overnight lows falling into the 20s. Couple the colder air with the gusty winds and wind chill values will be in the teens.
It will certainly feel cold, especially compared to the relatively mild winter we've experienced thus far. Now, we won't break any records with this cold snap, and trust me, that's a good thing! As I've been forecasting this week, I've noticed climate data indicating record low temperatures below 0°. The high and low records for Feb. 9-12 all occured in 1899, during the Great Arcitc Outbreak. Here's a map that shows the temperature and snowfall from February 10-11th (more on the blizzard below).
Right here in D.C., low temperatures fell to -15°, which remains the coldest temperature on record in D.C. to date. Not only did D.C. get hit with intense cold, but so did much of the Eastern United States. February 1899 startred off with a two week period of extremely cold weather. All time record minimum temperatures were set in 12 states from the Central and Southern Plains, to the Southeast, and right here in D.C.
The Arctic Outbreak culminated with a strong low pressure system that would go down in history as the Great Blizzard of 1899. Here's a surface map from 1899 on February 12th.
- "Weather and Forecasting" - Kocin, Weiss, Wagner
All of the ingredients were present for a major blizzard to develop and cripple parts of the East Coast. There was plenty of available moisture, as the low pressure system developed over the Gulf Coast, and arctic temperatures were in place.
Snow started falling on the 12th in Florida and a continued to intensify, as it moved up the coast. The blizzard struck DC on Valentine's Day dropping 21 inches of snow in the Baltimore/Washington area. Here's another surface map from the next day.
- "Weater and Forecasting" - Kocin, Weiss, Wagner
February 1899 is on record as the snowiest month with 35.2" of snow. D.C. has had its share of snowstorms, including Snowmagedon, just two years ago in February.
So, on the anniversary of the Great Arcitc Outbreak and Great Blizzard of 1899, we'll get a taste of cold weather and a bit of snow, but certainly nothing to the degree of what DC experienced back in February 1899.
If you want to read more, here's an article from "Weather and Forecasting" that goes into great detail about this historic event.