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Balmy December caused by jet stream’s push to the north, experts say

Jenna Harris, 23, of Shirley, cools off from

Jenna Harris, 23, of Shirley, cools off from the record breaking temperatures at Smithpoint County Beach on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Say, Long Island. How about a little April with your December?

The balmy temperatures this month have averaged out to 9.4 degrees above normal for the first 13 days. This year’s stretch has been the second warmest for that time frame in 30 years of record-keeping, said the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Monday, with a high of 62 degrees at 11:15 p.m., became the fifth in a string of record breakers — it was 68 on both Saturday and Sunday, 59 on Friday and 61 on Thursday at Long Island MacArthur Airport. All this follows the warmest meteorological fall on record.

So, what accounts for this light-jacket weather?

Bill Korbel, News 12 Long Island meteorologist, points to the position of the jet stream as the key driver of temperatures. This narrow air current high in the atmosphere “has been much farther north so far this December and that has kept the cold air from reaching us.”

As for any role of climate change, Korbel said “it is impossible to attribute any one weather event of short duration to overall climate change, which extends across many years and centuries.”

Brian Colle, professor in Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, agrees. However, “in a warmer world, this type of event might be more likely,” he said.

Tuesday’s forecast is for highs of around 60, which could surpass 2008’s daily record of 59. By the weekend, though, Korbel says temperatures turn “more December-like” with highs in the low 40s.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Monday’s high temperature tied the record for the day. Monday’s daily high was 62 degrees, set at 11:15 p.m.

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