First Big Winter Chill Arrives Thursday

50s are shoved out as single digit wind chills replace them
Posted at 9:43 PM, Dec 23, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Mild air in December can only stick around for so long, especially close to the big holidays.

Our first true dose of cold winter air arrives late overnight as the warm plume of air (which stays near 50 until just after midnight) is forced out, hurling local thermometers into freefall.

You might head to bed with the "feels-like" temperature near 50, but by sunrise it will only feel like 10 degrees. This frosty air blankets the area all day long.


Climbing temperatures today reached into the 50s courtesy of a robust, steady southern breeze that occasionally produced gusts over 35mph.

That mild air holds in place until just after midnight tonight ahead of a potent cold front. This front carries some rain showers but the main change will be the arrival of the chill behind the front.

Temperatures will quickly cool from the lower 50s into the middle 20s over a 4-6 hour span, with wind chills in the lower teens and upper single digits. Brrr!

As the air undergoes rapid cooling, it isn't out of the question that some snow showers could be touched off on the backside of the rain.

That said, the main concern with the falling temps is that wet roadways may freeze over in locations that receive rain, so please be careful on the roads tomorrow.

Thursday: Christmas Eve

With the frigid air having settled in by sunrise, expect to need several layers for Christmas Eve. That's --several-- layers.

Wind chills hold steady all day long, ranging between 5-15 degrees in what will ultimately amount to the coldest day so far this season. Not unusual for the time of year, but it's our first big chill.

A few snow showers of the lake effect variety may come into play later in the day as the wind shifts to become westerly. Whatever the case we expect a cold and cloud-filled day.

Even though the wind will slowly calm down throughout the day, temperatures are also expected to fall at a quiet pace. This is why we expect the chill to stay steady all day.

After the sun goes down our chills are in the single digits all night, and we may even see a flurry or two. I hope Santa brought along his long underwear.

Friday: Christmas Day

While not everything will be coated in white Christmas morning, we'll still have a chance for some snow cover to look forward to. Light snow showers may again fall during the day, depending on the west wind coming from Lake Michigan.

Expect a very similar feel with daytime wind chills only in the low teens for the big holiday, so curling up warm indoors might be the way to go.

If you are traveling, west Michigan towards Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo (the US-131 corridor) is expected to receive a few inches of snow that could impact travel.

The overall idea is that the closer you go towards Lake Michigan, the more snow will stick. Headed the other way towards Detroit? Expect even lesser impacts.

This Weekend and Beyond

Okay, we've made it this far. Less than a week to go in the year 2020. Here's how we're looking...

Saturday appears to be a partly cloudy day and temperatures finally return to the freezing mark. We up it again on Sunday but increase the cloud cover a bit.

We maybe see a few flurries overnight Sunday and into Monday morning. It doesn't amount to much. We're back near freezing again on Monday.

Sunshine, and a lot of it, arrives for Tuesday but it comes at a price; temperatures are back in the 20s for our highs. Wednesday we bring back some snow showers that hang around into Thursday for New Year's Eve.

How about the very beyond? Well, long range weather models suggest that much of the first week of January in 2021 could feature dry weather and above average temps.

For what it's worth, the average high for that week will be close to 30 degrees, so above average could mean we're still shy of 40. We'll see if that trend continues deeper into the month.

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