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WATCH NOW: Freeze watches, warnings issued for parts of Virginia

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Gardeners prepare. Frigid temperatures will threaten tender plants across much of Virginia this weekend.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued freeze watches and warnings for the mountains and western Piedmont ahead of cold temperatures that will arrive Friday night. Frost advisories or freeze warnings will be issued for Sunday morning as well – and expanded into central Virginia – if the forecast stays on track. Visit for the very latest in your area.

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Freeze watches and warnings, as of Thursday afternoon.

Mother's Day could bring the coldest readings that Richmond has seen so late into the spring since the 1980s.

For a closer look at the cause of this major cooldown and more history of frigid weather in May, check out Tuesday's column.

Friday night - Saturday morning

Rain will clear out as a cold front heads offshore, but the front will live up to its name.

Readings could drop fast enough to allow some snow to mix with rain in the mountains, and light accumulations are possible in the highest elevations.

It will be a blustery night with gusts from the northwest at 20 mph, and higher winds in the mountains.

Metro Richmond lows:

Likely upper 30s; best case lower 40s; potentially mid 30s and frost if the winds drop off. A hard freeze is not expected.

Statewide lows:

Upper 20s in the high elevations and southwest; lower-to-mid 30s in the valleys and foothills; mid-to-upper 30s in the Piedmont and Northern Virginia; upper 30s for Southside and Tidewater; lower-to-mid 40s near the coast. This will be close to daily record lows for Lynchburg, Charlottesville and Washington.

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Saturday

This will be the chilliest afternoon of the weekend, with readings 15 to 25 degrees cooler than usual for this time of year.

Sustained winds from the northwest will add to the March-like feel of the day.

Highs will run in the upper 50s for Richmond and the southeastern tier of the state. Mid-to-lower 50s are likely from Roanoke to Charlottesville to Washington, with 40s across the mountains.

Skies will feature a mix of sun and clouds, with more persistent cloudiness toward Washington.  That could yield straggling (but brief) sprinkles or flurries across the mountains and in far northern Virginia.

Saturday night - Sunday morning

High pressure will keep skies clear and winds relatively light, which is a good recipe for temperatures to bottom out.

Metro Richmond lows:

Likely mid 30s and frost; potentially lower 30s and a freeze; best case near 40 degrees.

Statewide lows:

Upper 20s to lower 30s in the high elevations and southwest; lower-to-mid 30s in the valleys and foothills; lower-to-mid 30s in the Piedmont and Southside; mid-to-upper 30s for Northern Virginia and Tidewater; lower 40s near the coast. This is within range of daily record lows for most of the state's major cities.

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This map from the National Weather Service shows low temperatures expected in Virginia on Sunday morning. But after a cold start, Sunday will be the nicer day of the weekend.

Sunday

Despite the cold start it will be the nicer day of the weekend, but still short of the upper 70s we'd expect for Mother's Day. 

Highs will generally top out in the 60s for most areas, but closer to 70 in Southside and closer to 60 in the mountains. Light winds will switch to the southwest, signaling that Sunday night won't be as cold.

Next week

A frost or freeze risk could return to the western and northern tiers of the state on Monday night into Tuesday morning, but that punch of cold air doesn't look as strong. After that, a steadily warmer weather pattern will take hold.

Check /weather for John Boyer's forecast updates. Contact him at JBoyer@timesdispatch.com.

Meteorologist

John Boyer is the first staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the RTD newsroom in November 2016. Boyer earned his degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

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