Northeasterners are in for a cold few days as a winter storm passes through, bringing rain and high chances of a flash freeze, weather experts say.
According to AccuWeather, the storm will cause a strong cold front that’ll send temperatures plummeting from Friday afternoon to Friday night. Some areas will even see a temperature drop of 30 to 50 degrees within just a few hours.
Major cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. will start the day with mild temperatures and by the evening, they will be below freezing, said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Tom Kines.
“That’s when they’ve got to worry about any wet spots or puddles that were around early in the day freezing up and causing slick spots,” Kines said.
Lake effect snow:What is lake effect snow? Here’s how it happens and how much snow it can bring with it.
Wind chill: What is wind chill? Understanding the wind chill index and how it’s calculated
What is a flash freeze?
John Moore is a meteorologist and spokesperson for the National Weather Service and based in Washington D.C. He said flash freezes can result in standing water freezing along roadways and on bridges.
“That’s what we call a flash freeze, when the temperature drops very sharply from above freezing to well below freezing,” he said. “In some locations across the northeast, we’ll see temperatures plunge 20, 30, maybe even 40 degrees in just a few hours.”
There will also be wind chills in the negatives, he said.
Kines from AccuWeather said temperatures can drop 10 degrees an hour and quickly reach below freezing range.
“A lot of places in the east will get a lot of rain later today and tonight,” Kines told USA TODAY. “With the temperatures dropping very rapidly on Friday and then Friday evening, I think there’s going to be a lot of people who find that their car doors are frozen shut.”
There’s also a lot of wind, he said. When wind gusts reach 50 mph, the risk of power outages, downed tree limbs and power lines comes into play.
“The temperature drop is nothing short of sensational,” he said. “I was looking at Denver yesterday. It was 50 degrees at lunchtime. At dinnertime, it was it was down to zero. That’s the kind of stuff that’s happening behind this front and it’s very wild.”
How you can prepare for a flash freeze
Moore from the National Weather Service said folks should do their best to stay off the roads. But if you must go, make sure you’re aware of your local forecast.
“It’s going to be above freezing most of the day tomorrow,” Moore said. “Quickly and sharply, the weather is going to change.”
And don’t get caught up.
You may not need a heavy coat when you head out in the early afternoon but that’ll change later on, he said.
He also suggests having an emergency preparedness kit complete with:
- Extra blankets
- Extra phone chargers
- Hand warmers
Where is the greatest risk for a flash freeze?
Forecasts call for the front to begin pushing into the northeast Friday morning and Moore said residents near the Great Lakes should be particularly aware of their weather.
They could be facing some lake effect snowfall or snow that can last for just a few minutes to several days. It occurs when narrow bands of clouds form as cold, dry arctic air passes over large lakes.
Areas such as the Allegheny Mountains will have the coldest, below freezing temperatures, Moore said.
In the east, the cold weather will last through the weekend, Kines said, with temperatures improving next week.
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas, and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Saleen_Martin or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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