Baby, it's warm outside: Higher-than-normal temps expected for Christmas

(CNN)So you're dying to wear that ugly Christmas sweater you picked out? Well, it may have to wait. The lyrics of the old Christmas classic, "Baby, It's Cold Outside," should be rewritten this year to "Baby, it's warm out outside ... oh baby, you'll sweat out there!"

A meteorological 'blowtorch'

After a quick burst of cool air over the weekend, the mercury is on its way up again over much of the East.
It's another chapter in what has been an incredibly warm December over much of the Eastern United States in what has been coined among some meteorologists as the "blowtorch."
    This month alone, more than 2,600 record high temperatures have been recorded and many more are expected before the New Year.
    What is so unusual is just how warm it is expected to get. Many of the major metropolitan areas in the Northeast will likely see some of the warmest Christmas Eves and Christmas Days on record.
    New York, Philadelphia and Washington are all expecting highs into the 70s this week -- incredible when you consider the normal high at New York's Central Park is 41 degrees.

    Record heat in two dozen states

    The record warmth is not only confined to the I-95 corridor. From now through Christmas Day, records are expected from Texas, through the Gulf Coast, mid-Atlantic, and even New England. Almost all of Florida will be in the 80s on Christmas, and the 70-degree line will reach as far north as Washington.
    Not only are the daytime temperatures warm, but the nighttime lows in many locations also are running 10 degrees above the normal daily high temperature.

    Blame it on El Niño

    Meteorologists are pointing to El Niño as the primary cause of the higher-than-average temperatures.
    The warming ocean waters in the tropical Pacific alter the weather patterns around the globe.
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    Not only is the United States seeing record temperatures this month, but much of Europe is warm as well. It was nearly 50 degrees in Moscow this week, with puddles, not ice surrounding the Kremlin.
    The higher-than-normal temperatures are forecast to continue for most of the northern half of the United States through the rest of the winter, according to the latest forecast from the Climate Prediction Center.

    Will you have a white Christmas?

    If you're hoping to see the white stuff on Christmas, don't count on it in some of the usual snowy scapes. Buffalo just saw its first flakes over the weekend, and that will likely be gone by Christmas. Even New England, known for its beautiful snow-covered landscapes this time of year, is hurting for snow.
    Only far northern parts of Maine and parts of the upper Midwest will have snow on the ground on Christmas Day.
    While snow in the East is hard to come by, it's a whole different story in the West. Skiers are loving it. Snow in much of the Northwest is above normal already. Even the Sierra in California, which is in the fourth year of a record drought, is well on its way to normal this year.

    How will travel be to Grandma's house?

    AAA projects year-end holiday travel will exceed over 100 million people this year, which would be a record.
    Wednesday -- Strong storms and even tornadoes are possible from parts of the Southeast, including Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee. Expect rain in much of the eastern half of the United States, with possible airport delays for Atlanta, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Snow could cause delays in Denver, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.
    Christmas Eve -- Lingering showers and storms for the eastern seaboard. Look for snow to continue in the West, with rain and airport delays for San Francisco.
    Christmas Day -- Showers and thunderstorms over much of the Southeast. Snow for the West, including Denver and Salt Lake City, with possible airport delays.
    The weekend -- A new storm takes shape for the Plains, along with colder temperatures. We could see snow and ice from the Texas Panhandle north to Kansas and Missouri. Rain and storms continue from Chicago to New Orleans, and rain in the northeast will cause minor delays for the major Northeast hubs.