WASHINGTON — A major wind event gives the new workweek a blustery start thanks to two different low pressure systems, which will have already combined (or “phased”) near the coast of New England.
Wind gusts Monday could be as high as 60 mph in most of the area, so the National Weather Service posted a fairly rare High Wind Warning because of the serious wind-damage potential. Other surrounding areas have a more common Wind Advisory for more minor disruptions caused by the wind gusts of up to 40 or 50 mph.
Even though we will not get any precipitation out of that storm, it will be directly responsible for our winds as a result of the intense gradient in atmospheric pressure — that is, the difference in pressures across the area.
You can think of low pressure as an “absence” of air whereas high pressure has an “excess.” Air from high pressure in the middle of the country is rushing to fill the “void” in the low pressure center near New England. And the air in low pressure areas is rising, also, resulting in all the clouds and precipitation. The air in the high pressure center is sinking, keeping it relatively cloud-free, and we are in-between with strong winds and mainly dry weather.
The storm is New England’s second blizzard in just a few days, but it will be heading out to sea late Monday, and our pressure gradient will not be as strong, so the winds will start dying down though not completely. The winds will keep the cold flow of air into early Tuesday morning, though just enough wind will keep the temperatures from bottoming out as low as they otherwise would go under these circumstances. High pressure will build in to our south and our wind direction will change to more westerly and southwesterly, which, combined with the sunshine, will make for a fairly pleasant Valentine’s Day on Tuesday.
A cold front will pass through the area Wednesday without much fanfare other than stirring up some more wind, once the system phases with a disturbance riding the Gulf Coast and forming another deep low pressure system near, yep, New England again. Even though we won’t get much, if any, precipitation out of the process, we will get another gusty day with some colder temperatures. Right now, it does not look like it will be as windy as Monday.
Daily weather highlights
• Very strong winds with possible tree damage and power outages
• Gusts occasionally on the order of 60 mph
• Temperatures by themselves not that cold, but wind chills in the low 20s to near freezing
• Sun going in and out of fair weather clouds, most clouds near the Blue Ridge
• Winds nowhere near as strong, but still a little breezy
• Temperatures milder and wind chills not a factor
• Weather not a factor in Valentine’s Day dinner plans
• Increasing cloud cover
• Slight chance of some light showers and sprinkles
• Temperatures a bit closer to seasonable
• Mostly cloudy
• Strong breezes
• Colder-than-average temperatures
• Lots of sunshine
• Not as windy
• Still unseasonably chilly