The Christmas weekend in Highland County and other parts of Ohio, as well as the entire Midwest, is as far from a white Christmas as sentimentalists could possibly dread.
Northerners accustomed to cozying up to a roaring Yuletide fire in a bulky sweater with a mug of hot chocolate may have to open the windows during the Christmas weekend.
Record-shattering temperatures in the 60s and 70s settled over the Northeast on Christmas Eve, allowing many people to trade gloves and scarves for shorts and T-shirts and go jogging and golfing instead of skiing.
In Hillsboro, several residents boasted of hitting the links in the days leading up to Christmas. Others were enjoying walks, and youngsters were spotted outdoors playing basketball.
Many Highland County residents were talking about how the weather felt more like Easter than Christmas.
While the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest have been getting heavy rain and snow, and the South has been hit by deadly tornadoes, much of the East Coast was experiencing balmy, spring-like weather on Christmas Day and beyond.
Forecasters said El Nino, the warming of the Pacific Ocean near the equator, is driving warm air eastward and keeping cold air from the Arctic at bay.
“That’s one thing about the temperature — a lot of places will blow away their previous record highs,” said Bob Oravec, a National Weather Service forecaster in College Park, Maryland.
Without the usual winter wonderland, some people clung to tradition to get in the mood.
Dozens skated at the ice rink in Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, where the temperature was in the 50s. Many of them were part of the annual Mechley family Christmas Eve morning gathering.
“Ironically, it’s the first year we had rented the warming hut,” said Camille Gartner, who was part of the group, expected to reach up to 80 people spanning four generations.
Fran Convery of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, tried to look the part, wearing red plaid shorts and a red pullover, but gave a bah-humbug scowl when asked about the weather. He was in Philadelphia with his family for a holiday tradition: looking at the decorations and having lunch at the Reading Terminal Market.
“I’d rather it be cold. I’d rather have snow on Christmas,” he said. “This past week and the days leading up to it did not feel like Christmas with the warm weather. But when we start doing this stuff, it does.”
In Warwick, Rhode Island, Stephen Malloney took advantage of the warm weather — the temperature hit a record of at least 65 in Providence — by playing a round of golf.
“Once I looked at the forecast, I packed my clubs,” said Malloney, who was in town from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, visiting family.
In New York City, the mercury hit 71 by 11 a.m. in Central Park, smashing the record of 63 degrees, set in 1996, and was expected to reach 74. The average temperature in December is just under 39 degrees. Dozens of people in shorts and tank tops went running in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
“It’s kind of like this is our little gift for the last two winters,” said Carlie Buccola at the National Weather Service in Upton, New York.
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