Christmas Day

Warmest Christmas ever recorded in the Big Apple

An unseasonably warm Christmas Eve in New York’s Central Park. Photo credit: Reuters / Lucas Jackson. 
By Anders Lorenzen

Unseasonably warm weather has meant the US has experienced the warmest Christmas period ever recorded, while in the UK an unseasonably warm December month was observed.

The weather site Weather Underground reported that New York City experienced the warmest Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ever recorded. On Christmas Day,  31 minutes after midnight a new temperature record of 66 degrees F (18. 8 C) was established. This followed a record shattering Christmas Eve as a low of 63 degrees F (17.2 C) was recorded, which was the warmest daily low temperature ever recorded in December in New York City. To compare, that low was warmer than 30 of 145 Independence Days, which is on the fourth of July, since 1871.

While New York City set the bar high, other US records were also being set such as in Portland, Maine, which recorded 62 degrees F (16.6 C) – it is the first time any site in Maine has recorded above 60 degrees F (15.5 C) on Christmas Day. Naples in Florida recorded 89 degrees F (31.6 C) which not only set a new Christmas Day record but also tied in with the all time December high. And in Albany, New York state and all time high of 72 degrees F (22.2 C) was recorded on Christmas Eve. This all time record counts for the whole winter period, which runs from the beginning to December until the end of February. Many parts of the US stayed extremely mild throughout the holiday season.

In the UK, while no Christmas records were broken, parts of the country experienced all time high December temperatures. In the week leading up to the Christmas week, day temperatures of 17.1 degrees C  and an all time high night temperature of 14.2 degrees C were recorded. The high temperatures caused unstable mild weather and the Storm Eva brought flooding to many communities. So severe that the UK government issued a cobra alert and the army were brought in to help flooded families on Christmas day. Other casualties of the mild weather was the Ice Rink which started melting at the Natural History Museum. And onlookers at a field in Heathrow could report an unusual sight as daffodils were in bloom. The UK temperatures continued to be extremely mild over the Christmas period and it is estimated a new all time high December record could be set.

Throughout Europe the Christmas period has been very mild with unstable weather causing heavy downpours, more storms and less snow on the European ski slopes. But one positive element of the weather has been on German energy prices which came close to negative prices over the Christmas period due to high wind power production and very little demand for heat. And in Denmark during some of Christmas day, Danish wind turbines produced more electricity from wind that the country could consume.

The cause of the mild weather is believed to be a very strong El Nino year, while many also believe a warming climate has had an impact. But despite the fact that a few months ago scientists could be confirm that the planet has now warmed with 1 degree C since pre-industrial times, Helen Chivers, from UK’s Met Office told me that it is still too early to conclude if the recent warm Christmas weather is due to climate change.

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