John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Balmy temperatures and a “slug of moisture” are in the forecast for next week in the Eastern U.S.
Many Americans hoping for a White Christmas this year are bound to be disappointed, as the entire eastern half of the country looks like it’ll be as warm as a lovely spring day.
This forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center shows expected regions with abnormally high temperatures for Christmas and the week beyond. Note the 80-to-100 percent probability of pleasant weather pretty much everywhere east of the Mississippi River:
Though it’s too far out to pinpoint exact temperatures, various National Weather Service stations are throwing out incredible predictions of daily highs on Christmas Eve: 67 degrees in Washington, D.C.; 62 in New York; 70 in Atlanta; 47 in Chicago. To make things feel even more tropical, in the lead-up to December 25, many Eastern cities are expecting a “slug of moisture” from the Gulf of Mexico, which could deliver significant showers and even thunderstorms.
What’s to account for the warm-storm over the East? Blame a persistent atmospheric pattern that’s keeping the right side of the country in jorts-weather and the left in a snow globe. The Weather Channel calls it a “blowtorch” pattern—likely after temperature maps that show mild temperatures in fiery oranges and red—and predicts this “could be the warmest Christmas Day of your lifetime, particularly if you live in one of the East Coast states.”
It’s worth noting this expected snug period is following what NOAA calls the warmest November on record for the planet, and indeed the hottest January-November period in known history.