Temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius for Dec. 24, 2015, showing the large area of unusually mild weather across the U.S. and Canada.Image: Climate Reanalyzer
The world's hottest year is ending in the most fitting manner possible: with one of the most significant heat waves on record for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The heat extends more than 1,500 miles, from South Florida northward to eastern Canada, and is being described on social media — in non-technical terminology — as a "blowtorch" weather pattern...
Or, in the words of a meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Portland, Maine: "It is safe to say Santa should wear Bermuda Shorts this year."
As of Thursday afternoon, at least one all-time December high temperature record had been broken, with a high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (so far) in Burlington, Vermont. In addition, at least two dozen daily record high temperatures had already been broken, including in New York City, which hit 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
Temperatures on Thursday and Friday will make a run at numerous all-time December high temperature records, along with record-warm overnight low temperatures.
Forecast high temperatures for Dec. 24, 2015, with circles indicating weather stations that may set or tie high temperature records.
Image: WeatherBell Analytics
We'll be tracking the records as they fall on Thursday and Friday. In total, computer model projections show that more than 75 out of the 236 "first-order" weather observing sites in the lower 48 states will be within striking distance of a record high temperature on Christmas Eve, with slightly fewer locations in the same situation on Christmas Day.
The unusual heat is spread out across more than two dozen states, and is helping to fuel severe thunderstorms that have spawned deadly tornadoes.
In New York, the forecast high temperature of 74 degrees on Thursday is just 1 degree Fahrenheit shy of the actual high temperature on July 4, 2015
In New York, the forecast high temperature of 74 degrees on Thursday is just 1 degree Fahrenheit shy of the actual high temperature on July 4, 2015, the National Weather Service said.
The low temperature in New York on Christmas morning should be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which was the warmest on record for the date. And according to Weather.com, if Washington, D.C. fails to see temperatures dip below 59 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Day, the city will establish a new all-time December record for the warmest low temperature.
Here's a rundown of some of the noteworthy temperature records that have already been set this Christmas in the eastern U.S. (Keep in mind that record warmth is also occurring in eastern Canada and parts of Europe and Asia as well.)
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, which is located along the Canadian border and typically is one of the first locations to feel the effects of Arctic air moving south into the U.S., set a record high for the date when the temperature reached 53 degrees Fahrenheit at 3:31 a.m. local time. This broke the old record of 46 degrees, set in 1994.
Raleigh, North Carolina, saw a record high of 77 degrees Fahrenheit, beating the old record of 75 degrees, which was set back in 1931.
Houghton Lake, Michigan, which is in the northern part of the state, set a record high of 56 degrees Fahrenheit as of 2:13 a.m. local time. The old record the date was 48 degrees.
Boston broke its record high temperature for the day as of 11:33 a.m. ET, with a reading of 66 degrees Fahrenheit, easily eclipsing the 61-degree high temperature seen on this date back in 1996.
In Providence, a record high temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit was set at 4:25 a.m. ET, which is about the time when the typical daily low temperature occurs at this time of year. This beat the previous record of 64 degrees, which was set just last year. The forecast high temperature in Providence is expected to be near or above 70 degrees today, greatly exceeding 2014's noteworthy Christmas Eve warmth.
Record daily highs were set before noon eastern time at Washington National Airport, Dulles Airport and at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Columbia, South Carolina broke its record high temperature for December 24, with a reading of 77 degrees Fahrenheit at 11 a.m. ET, breaking the old record of 76 degrees, set in 1964.
Grand Rapids, Michigan set a daily high temperature record of 59 degrees Fahrenheit as of 6:07 a.m. ET, beating the old record of 58 degrees Fahrenheit, which was set in 1893. Grand Rapids also set a record high on Wednesday.
In Indianapolis, Indiana, the temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit recorded shortly after midnight on Dec. 24 was high enough to tie the record for the date, which was recorded in 1933. Records began at this location in 1871, the National Weather Service said in a statement.
The warmth is expected to be especially pronounced in the Mid-Atlantic states, where records began toppling shortly after midnight last night.
For example, a record high temperature was set at Georgetown, Delaware as of 1:29 a.m. ET this morning when the temperature hit 72 degrees Fahrenheit, smashing the old record of 68, set in 2013.
Reading, Allentown and Atlantic City also broke or tied record daily highs in the early morning hours, well before sunrise.
These records and more will ensure that the total number of warm temperature records in the U.S. for the month of December reach close to the astonishing figure of 7,000
These records and more will ensure that the total number of warm temperature records in the U.S. for the month of December reach close to the astonishing figure of 7,000, compared to barely 1,000 for cold temperature records, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina.
In addition to the heat in the eastern U.S. and Midwest, some of the largest temperature anomalies are projected to occur across eastern Canada, including Ontario, Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes, where temperatures may be as much as 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit above average on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The record warm Christmas holiday is a fitting end to what will be Earth's hottest year-to-date, thanks to a combination of long-term manmade global warming and a powerful El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean.
November 2015 was the seventh straight warmest month on record for the year so far. Not only that, but the amount by which the monthly average temperature exceeded the typical reading was the second-highest temperature departure from average of any month on record.
Out of 1,630 monthly records, eight months during 2015 were among the 10 highest monthly temperature departures from their respective averages, and all of the months of 2015 to date are among the 25 highest.
This year is expected to be the first year in which global average surface temperatures are at least 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above average, meaning that the world is already halfway to the 2-degree Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, global warming target, and even closer to a more stringent 1.5-degree target mentioned in the recently negotiated Paris Agreement.
Dec. 24, 5:09 p.m. ET
To receive the latest breaking news on global warming issues, click here and go to our climate blog. Look to the bottom right of the page for the climate blog Subscribe box to automatically get our RSS news feed and each new story.