Cold weather grips region, will let go overnight

WASHINGTON – The cold weather set records in the Washington area on Tuesday, with high temperatures across the region barely making it into the teens and wind chill factors making it dangerous to go outside.

But as afternoon turns to evening, the winds will lighten up, says ABC7 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts, and Wednesday will see a bit of a warmup.

As of 3 p.m, temperatures in the area were moving into the teens, while some wind chill factors had finally crept above zero for the first time all day.

Ricketts says that winds will lighten up in the evening and at night, while temperatures will stay basically the same as they were during the day – high single digits into the teens. And Wednesday will see high temperatures around 30.

Tuesday morning was a different story, with record-low temperatures set Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport, where the low before sunrise reached down to 3 degrees, and at Dulles Airport, which reached 1 degree. In both places, the previous record had been set in 1988.

Meanwhile, Reagan National Airport bottomed out at 6, just missing the Jan. 7 record of 5 degrees for the city, set in 1884. In the city, temperatures were the coldest since 1996, struggling through the teens with a high of 19 as of 3 p.m. and wind-chill factors right around zero after being in the negative teens in the morning.

On the National Mall, vacationers didn’t let the cold stop them. Two Australians, Robin Garrett and Bill Gaynor, say it was hot back home – 110 degrees in their city of Adelaide – but they were forging ahead with their plan to see the museums.

Still, Garrett said she and Bill Gainer had “every single thing we own on,” “a wild experience for us,” Gainer says.

“I could barely walk,” said Lynn Palmer, of Alexandria, Va., Tuesday morning on her way to work in Washington.

Meanwhile, on Interstate 70, near Hagerstown, truck-stop mechanic Jeffery Oldham Jr. wore a camouflage cap, hunting gloves, double layers of clothing and a heavy parka, and said that he was trying to go inside every 15 minutes to warm up.

Spending seven or eight minutes fixing a fuel pump was “long enough to feel like my face was going to freeze,” Oldham said. “It wouldn’t be too bad out if it wasn’t for the wind.”

Wednesday isn’t the end of the warmup either: Believe it or not, Ricketts says, we could make it to 60 degrees – that’s above zero – over the weekend.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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