By now you’ve probably heard the buzz about the late week cold headed our way. From a meteorological perspective, it does look quite impressive when you take into account the severity of the cold combined with the expected wind. And what a difference from last December! On December 15th 2015, temperatures climbed into the middle 50s in Portland. The opposite extreme is expected late this week.
A series of arctic fronts will bring in the cold air in stages. The first arrives late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Snow showers and squalls may accompany this feature, but more importantly, you’ll notice the colder temperatures and stronger winds.
The core of the cold and strong winds will be with us late Thursday night into Friday morning. Low temperatures will be around zero for many communities, and winds will gust 30 to 40 mph. The combination of those variables will likely provide wind chill temperatures around 20 to 30 degrees below zero for most of of the area. Here’s a wind chill timeline.
Based on today’s forecast, Portland’s record low temperature of 9 below set in 1951 should be safe. The low may be close though, as I anticipate early Friday morning temperatures -10 to +5 for the area. Another record that will be close Friday is the low at The Mount Washington Observatory. The record is -37°, and forecast modeling is suggesting temperatures around 6000 feet in elevation to be in that ball park.
I spent a few years living and working on the summit of Mount Washington. I vividly remember this day when the temperature was around 20 below, and winds were gusting to 120 mph. Friday morning looks colder and windier. This is me laboring to get back to the building to measure 1/4 inch of snow in the precipitation can. I’m pretty sure this video is 16 years old.
Winds will diminish during the course of the day Friday, but gusts 20 to 30 mph will remain. Highs should struggle to get out of the low teens for most, but at least we’ll have the sun. I can’t say the same for the weekend though. A storm will bring accumulating snow to the area Saturday (stay tuned in the coming days for amounts). It’s looking like freezing rain may become an issue Saturday night into Sunday morning. Despite the extreme cold late week, it’s still looking like temperatures will warm up enough to bring some wet weather late in the weekend. Stay tuned.