This past weekend here in New York City, the streets were swarmed with an alarming amount of Santas thanks to the lovely, not-obnoxious-at-all event known as SantaCon. Usually, the plush red Santa outfit is appropriate for the city's biting December weather. But this year, the Santas were sweating through their suits.
On Sunday, the temperature in New York City hit a record-breaking 67°F. People were strolling through Central Park in t-shirts and shorts.
So ... What. The. Hell. Is. Going. On.
Everyone's immediate thought: global warming. Duh.
But it's not so. Global warming is not, in fact, the primary cause of this unseasonably warm weather. It's actually El Niño, a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns.
A record-breaking El Niño has shunted the jet stream far to the north, paving the way for warm air to shatter records. The lack of snow so far—that may change later on this winter—has also helped keep things warmer: Without snow on the ground, the feeble December sun can warm things up much more efficiently. Third on the list, bumping up temperatures by perhaps a couple of degrees, is global warming.
So, yes, global warming is still alive and kickin', but we can't put all the blame on it for this weather.
What happens next will largely be decided by El Niño. Since its already reached its peak in the Pacific, it'll soon focus even more of its energy on weather in the U.S. In other words: We ain't seen nothin' yet. These above-average temps will probably continue through mid-January.
It looks like the chances of a White Christmas are slim to none for those of us in the Northeast. Sorry, guys.
But, on a positive note, we can now enjoy the weather more thoroughly now that we know it's not entirely global warming's fault.
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