RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An Arctic front passed through Central Virginia early Friday morning, but what exactly does that mean? 

Well, it is a strong front that has its origins near the North Pole or the Arctic Circle. Sometimes, an Arctic air mass like this is also called the polar vortex — which is when the air that starts over in Siberia slides over the North Pole and then down into the United States.

Either way, this is a very cold Arctic blast for most of the United States as we head into Christmas weekend. For some, it is some of the coldest air in decades.

But what does it mean for Central Virginia?

Throughout the remainder of today our temperatures will fall and we will not stop falling until tomorrow morning when we hit an overnight low of ten degrees above zero. 

We will go below freezing, and due to the rain that we had Thursday and the rain that accompanied Friday’s Arctic front, our roadways are wet. Driveways, sidewalks, decks and stairs are also wet from the rain. The problem is the water that is laying on these surfaces will quickly freeze this afternoon. 

We could have black ice on our area roadways or very thin layers of ice on the driveways, sidewalks, or decks and that will become a bit treacherous around your home, so please be careful.

When we get a powerful front like this, it is usually accompanied by extremely strong winds and such is the case Friday. One of the reasons why the winds are so strong is the center of low pressure of this system is rapidly intensifying in the Northern Great Lakes. This is what we call rapid cyclogenesis, or you might have heard the term “bomb cyclone”. This is when the pressure inside this storm system bombs out or drops rapidly.

It is the difference in that pressure that creates these extreme winds. The winds for the remainder of Friday will be 20-to-30 mph with gusts of 40 mph miles per. We will still have strong winds Friday night and Saturday, although they will be down a little bit, we will be looking for 10-to-20 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Saturday is Christmas Eve and it is going to be a very cold day even though we will have plenty of sunshine. The Arctic air will firmly be over our area and our hour high temperatures will only top out in the middle to upper-20s, but when you factor in the wind, the wind chill will be in the middle teens.

Thankfully, those winds will subside late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Christmas Day, we will not have those strong winds to deal with. However, it will still be cold despite having plenty of sunshine. We will only top out in the lower 30s.

The Arctic air will begin to lose its grip on us as we go into the holiday week and there are some signs by New Year’s Eve we can easily be in the middle 60s.