That deep warm feeling on Christmas Day wasn’t just from the glow of the season – for much of the country, it was from some unusually warm temperatures outside.
A meteorological ‘blowtorch’
After a burst of cool air last weekend, the mercury continued 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, a pattern that some meteorologists have coined the “blowtorch.”
As of earlier this week, this month alone saw more than 2,600 record-high temperatures, and many more are expected before the new year.
Major metropolitan areas in the Northeast saw some of the warmest Christmas Days on record, meaning green grass rather than white snow in time for Santa’s visits.
The normal high on Christmas in New York’s Central Park is 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet the record-high Christmas Day temperature of 64 degrees, set in 1982, was already history as of 2 a.m., and things hardly cooled down from there.
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 have the daytime temperatures been warm, but the nighttime lows in many locations have been running 10 degrees above the normal daily high temperature.
Blame it on El Niño
Some meteorologists are pointing to El Niño – in which warming ocean waters in the tropical Pacific alter weather patterns worldwide – as the primary cause for such higher-than-average temperatures.
The warming ocean waters in the tropical Pacific alter the weather patterns around the globe.
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.