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Record warmth likely for the first full day of Winter

Winter Weather

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The Winter Solstice is Saturday, December 21 at 12:11 p.m. EST. Ironically, the first full day of Winter on Sunday could break record warm temperatures!

Sunday, December 22, we could break both the record warm low temperature (55 degrees from 1923) and the record high temperature (74 degrees from 1923).

Southwesterly flow kicks into gear today, beginning our warm-up that will lead to record warmth Sunday.

High pressure over the Southeast U.S. will slide offshore into the Atlantic today and tomorrow, boosting the transport of warmer air from our southwest into the Mid-Atlantic.

A storm system currently over the Southwest U.S. will slowly strengthen over the next several days as it tracks into the Heartland, allowing a surge of very warm air to move up the Eastern Seaboard through the weekend.  The jet stream aloft will also surge north of us, placing us beneath a broad, warm ridge. Our high temperatures will reach the mid to upper 60s on Friday, with low to mid 70s likely Saturday and Sunday.  The air mass will be so unusually warm, that low temperatures will be 5-10 degrees warmer than the normal high temperatures for this time of the year.

After likely breaking 90-year-old records Sunday, seasonably cooler air will begin moving into Virginia and the jet stream will dip south again, leading to a dry and seasonably cool Christmas Eve and Day.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will both be mostly sunny, dry, and cool, with lows in the mid to upper 20s and highs in the mid to upper 40s.

But back to the Winter Solstice. The days around the Solstice have approximately the same daylight time (in Richmond, that’s about 9 hours and 34 minutes). But after the Solstice, the daylight time begins to get a wee bit longer.

Winter_solstice
GIF: Wikimedia Commons. Winter Solstice Sunlight on Earth. The north polar region of Earth is in 24-hour darkness, while the south polar region is in 24-hour daylight.

By New Year’s Day, we’ll have gained three more minutes of daylight in Richmond. Incoming solar energy increases in the Northern Hemisphere through Spring toward the Summer Solstice.

seasons_solstice_equinox_NASA
IMAGE: NASA

Our Sun angle will gradually get higher in the sky after the Solstice.

SeasonsSunEarthPerspectiveFromRedOrbit

But why don’t we immediately start to warm up after the Winter Solstice? Because there is a lag in how long it takes for large bodies of water (like we have on Earth) to warm, relative to land. And if that land has snowpack on it (like it does in the Northern Hemisphere right now), that delays the warming, too (because of snow’s higher albedo).

Check out the snowpack from Canada down into many parts of the U.S. today:

nsm_depth_2013121905_National

We’re far from the end of Winter weather! Temperature swings will continue like we’ve already experienced in November and December thus far. And for you snow lovers, don’t lose heart! Our snowiest months tend to be January and February.

Welcome Winter!

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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