Dec 14, 2023 - Energy & Environment

White Christmas unlikely for much of U.S. as temps set to jump

A NOAA temperature map showing temperatures well above average across most of the U.S. for the next 8-14 days.

Photo: NOAA

Much of the U.S. is likely to see temperatures of 10 to 20°F above average for the time of year during the last two weeks of December — including Christmas.

The big picture: The expected above-average winter temperatures come in a week when Spain recorded its highest daily December temperature, when Malaga reached 85.8°F on Tuesday, and on the heels of Australia experiencing its hottest winter on record.

Computer model projection showing the powerful west-to-east jet stream across he North Pacific on Dec. 23.
Computer model projection showing the powerful west-to-east jet stream across the North Pacific on Dec. 23. Image:

What to expect: A strong, east-to-west oriented jet stream flowing across the Pacific Ocean from Friday to Dec. 25 is forecast to bring mild air and moisture to much of North America as it prevents Arctic air from diving southward out of Canada.

  • "Temperatures will be above average across the West and the northern tier of the nation through at least this weekend," per a National Weather Service forecast discussion Thursday morning.
  • "Highs in parts of the Midwest will likely reach 10-20 degrees above normal into the upper 40s and lower 50s."
  • From Dec. 20- 26, much of the U.S. is set to experience above-average temperatures, according to NOAA.
  • Even a large part of Alaska is expected to be affected by this. Still, if you're looking for a white Christmas, NOAA's historical data indicates you should head to The Last Frontier state or elsewhere in the northern tier of the country to experience having at least 1 inch of snow or more on the ground on Christmas Day.

Zoom out: NOAA and UN meteorologists warn 2023 is likely to be the hottest year on record, as climate change is causing heat waves to be more intense, longer-lasting and more frequent.

Meanwhile, the EU's Copernicus Climate Change Service reports that Canada produced 23% of the global wildfire carbon emissions for 2023 after its historic, lengthy fire season that repeatedly triggered air quality alerts across the country and the U.S.

Of note: The UN's World Meteorological Organization highlighted to the historic COP28 climate summit the accelerating pace of climate change and its impacts on people's lives through extreme weather events.

  • WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas praised Wednesday's COP28 deal for recognizing for the first time the need to transition away from fossil fuels, but noted in a statement that the world was "already about 1.4°C above the pre-industrial era when COP28 started in November" and that 2024 "is expected to continue to be warm, perhaps even hotter."
  • "Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere keep reaching record levels year-on-year, meaning that temperatures will continue to rise in the coming decades, given the long lifetime of CO2," he added. "And we are losing the race to limit the shocking decline in our vital glaciers and to limit sea level rise."
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