The official start of winter is a week away, but you would never know it in the eastern United States. Temperatures have been so warm that is feels like spring and heat records across the region are being shattered.
Here in New York City, daily high temperature records have been tied or broken for three consecutive days. On Sunday, the temperature reached 67°F in Central Park, breaking the old record of 64°F from 1923. Monday’s high of 67°F tied the record from 1881 and today, in the early morning hours, the mercury climbed to 68°F surpassing the previous record of 67°F from 2008. Evening temperatures have also been exceptionally warm. In fact, the overnight lows have been warmer than the average highs for the past few days. Sunday even posted a new record maximum low of 55°F. The city’s normal high for this time of year is 43°F and the normal low is 32°F.
The primary driver of this unseasonable warmth is El Niño. It has produced a large ridge in the jet stream over the eastern part of the country that is allowing warm air from the south to flow further north than it normally would at this time of year.
To date, according to the NWS, the city is running 12.1°F above average for the month. While this warm weather can be easy to get used to, it makes all the holiday decorations around town feel out of season. So, I guess we can say that El Niño is the Grinch that stole Christmas this year.