Santa may want to start getting out his lightweight reds, maybe even flip-flops, for his big visit next week to Long Island, given the potential for record-breaking warm temperatures on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
On the heels of a six-day stretch of record-breaking highs, conditions are expected to turn more “December-like” for this weekend, with highs of around 40 and 45 degrees, says Rich Hoffman, News 12 Long Island meteorologist.
However, two computer models are suggesting the possibility for the heat to crank up again, bringing the potential for record highs next Thursday and Friday, he says.
The Climate Prediction Center is showing a remarkable 90 percent chance for above-normal temperatures for just about the entire eastern third of the country, this for the period between Dec. 23 to Dec. 29.
Indeed, the prediction center is showing especially high confidence in its call, said Jay Engle, National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton.
The average high for Dec. 24 at Long Island MacArthur Airport is 41 degrees, with the record high of 60 set last year, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, based at Cornell University.
The average high for Dec. 25 is 40 degrees, with the record high of 56, seen both last year and in 1994.
Behind this month’s average of 10.9 degrees above normal, so far, as well as the warmest fall on record at the airport, is the position of the jet stream, a sort of river of fast-moving winds high in the atmosphere. That jet stream has stayed well to the north, keeping the colder air with it and allowing warmer air to move up from the south.
Climate change is not playing a role, said Bill Korbel, also a News 12 Long Island meteorologist, as “It is impossible to attribute any one weather event of short duration to overall climate change which extends across many years and centuries.”
What’s more, the jet stream scenario is a common one during a strong El Nino, a climate pattern starting with warmer sea surface temperatures in the Pacific that can affect weather conditions worldwide, according to the weather service on its Facebook page.
As of days-end Tuesday, the first half of December marked the warmest stretch for that period at the airport since records started being kept in 1984, the regional climate center said.
What this means on Long Island is that a white Christmas is likely not in the offing for this year. In fact, the region has been in a moderate drought since May, thanks to a precipitation deficit.
Hoffman, however, tells snow lovers to take heart. Next up are January and February, which could bring more wintry conditions.