Dreaming of a … warm Christmas?


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A floating tree on Silver Lake and reindeer on the banks cast long reflections on the water next to McGlynn’s on State Street in Dover. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER — At night, Christmas shines bright with colorful lights in tall trees and hanging high above Loockerman Street.

Candles gleam in windows and the usual colorful tree sparkles on Silver Lake, reminding passers-by that winter officially arrived Monday.

Daytime, however, chases away thoughts of winter wonderland.

The unseasonably warm weather of recent days has diminished the hopes of those dreaming of a white Christmas, with the forecast is shaping to have above normal temperatures for the holiday season.

There won’t be any need for heavy winter jackets, hats or mittens for last-minute shoppers, as a record high temperature of 75 degrees is expected on Christmas Eve.

The average December high for Dover is 47 degrees, according to usclimatedata.com.

If the forecast bears out the high temperature will break the 1982 Christmas Eve record high of 67 degrees for Dover, according to the National Weather Service.

Due to the strong El Niño unfolding, many places that historically have a high probability to receive Christmas snow will miss out this year.

El Niño is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific that affects weather patterns around the world, according to weather forecasters.

The current strong El Niño has helped to strengthen a west to east jet stream, which delivers mild Pacific air across the United States.

“The position of the jet stream prevents Arctic air from coming southward,” said Jim Bunker, observing program leader with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

“While the jet dips out West it creates a ridge in the eastern part of the country allowing us to experience warmer temperatures.”

Mr. Bunker believes the current El Niño will rank within the top three strongest on record.

The passage of a cold front will drop temperatures some in the Northeast on Christmas Day. The weather service’s forecast calls for a high of 65 degrees.

“It’s going to be not as warm on Christmas Day,” Mr. Bunker said, compared to Thursday. “It’s going to cool down a little, but the fact that’s in the mid-60s in December says a lot. That’s pretty unusual.”

The record high for Christmas is 71 degrees, which occurred in 1964, according to the National Weather Service.

Those wanting to take advantage of the warm weather by caroling or engaging in any other outdoor activity should plan to keep an umbrella handy, though.

“The front will create potential rain showers throughout the weekend,” Mr. Bunker said.

Tom Smith, of T.S. Smith and Sons, said the weather hasn’t been a problem for the 800-acre family-owned farm in Bridgeville.

“It hasn’t played a factor,” Mr. Smith said. “Things haven’t hardened yet. All we need is a few consistent cold months to build the biological clock for everything, so they can bloom in the spring.

“It hasn’t been cold yet and that’s fine for right now,” he said, “But we just need it to be cold for a little. We’re hoping that happens, but right now it’s too soon to tell if this weather will affect us or not.”

Mr. Bunker said people can expect above average temperatures until the end of January.

“There will be a few cases of cold weather a few weeks after the new year,” Mr. Bunker said. “But for the most part we’ll continue to have these warm temperatures.”

Don’t put the coat and gloves in long-term storage, however. The situation will change, according to Mr. Bunker.

“It will feel a lot like winter during the latter of January as we head in February and March.”

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