Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December "Blowtorch" Heatwave Is Upon Us And Boy Is It Weird

We think Santa's going to look like this during
his East Coast swing this year
I can't stop obsessing about the big warm spell that I've been advertising and that's now developing in the eastern United States.

As I've already noted, there's going to be a lot of record highs broken over the next several days, especially on Christmas Eve.

If you like weather typical of May, this is your Christmas. Santa's coming on a surfboard wearning a Hawaiian shirt this year.  


Another weird thing about this warm spell is how humid it will feel. It will actually be muggy in a lot of areas in the Midwest and East.

This is actually dangerous, because this humidity is helping set a wide area of the nation up for a widespread severe weather outbreak. The severe storm and tornado potential could end up outweighing the newsiness of the heat wave itself.

The potentially dangerous storms would start today and worsened on Wednesday. Later today, the focus for severe thunderstorms and maybe a couple of tornadoes would be in eastern Texas and Oklahoma, parts of Arkansas and areas of the Gulf Coast.

On Wednesday, the severe potential gets worse, and widespread and very weird.  By weird, I mean the severe weather could cover a huge area of the country, which is very, very odd for late December.

There are occasional outbreaks of tornadoes fairly close to the Gulf Coast in some Decembers, as storms moving by over, say Texas and Arkansas can draw warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. That humid air is one key ingredient for severe weather.

This time, as I mentioned, pre Christmas humid air will engulf much of the eastern half of the nation. That means the potential for severe storms and possibly even tornadoes could reach as far north as Chicago, southern Michigan and much of Ohio.
 A wide area of the nation is at risk for severe weather and possible
tornados Wednesday, especiallyin the yellow and orange zones.

Tnere could even be non-severe thunderstorms as far north as New England, especially toward Thursday.

On Wednesday, the highest risk of severe storms and tornadoes looks as if it will be in the Tennessee Valley and northern Gulf Coast States, places like Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, eastern Arkansas, maybe even extending up north into places like southern Illinois and Indiana.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center says there could be a number of tornadoes, "some potentially significant," in their words.

We are THIS CLOSE to ending 2015 with one of the lowest number of tornado deaths for a year on record. Let's hope this possible tornado outbreak doesn't change that low death toll.


All this storminess and humidity also brings us the potential for flooding over huge areas of the country.

The biggest threats for flooding over the next several days appear to be a wide area in and near the Ozarks and in the southern Appalachians.

The flooding could start with this pre-Christmas storm, but an even wetter new storm upcoming this weekend could really intensify the flooding in the areas I've mentioned. There's some uncertainty there, but it's worth watching.


Temperature forecasts for this week are truly incredible. Chicago is expecting a high of 62 degrees Wednesday. On Christmas Eve, Washington, DC is forecast to reach 76 degrees, and New York City, 72.

Down in Nashville, Tennessee high temperatures every day hrough next Monday are expected to be in the upper 60s to low 70s, in a city where the normal high temperature this time of year is in the upper 40s. Many nights this week in Nashville won't go below 60 degrees. Normal lows there are around 30.

The heat will go way north. Environment Canada says the expected high temperature in Montreal Christmas Eve is 59 degrees.

Near where I live, Burlington, Vermont is expecting a high temperature of 62 degrees on Christmas Eve, which would break the record high for the date of 51 degrees.

Normal high temperatures this time of year in Burlington are around 30 degrees, but the temperature isn't even expected to fall below 40 degrees, even at night, until Friday night.

Very many cities in the eastern United States will record their hottest Decembers on record, I'm sure.

The Gossarital, Austria ski resort on Dec. 21, 2014 (top)
and Dec. 21, 2015 (bottom) Photo from ZAMG/
Maximiliano Herrera via Weather Underground. 

The United States isn't the only part of the country experiencing hot times this Christmas season.

In his Weather Underground blog, Dr. Jeff Masters outlines some European heat, including all time highs for the month of December recorded at Stockholm, Sweden at 56 degrees, Riga, Latvia at 53 degrees, and Helsinki, Finland, at 51 degrees.

Warm downslope winds brought temperatures up to the low 60s on the northern slopes of the Alps and Pyrenees at about the 3,000 foot elevation.

It's summer in the Land Down Under, and it's off to a super hot start. Port Augusta, Australia, had a new December high temperature of 117 degrees. Adelaide had four consecutive days with highs at or above 104 degrees. Dunedin, New Zealand broke its all time December high by four degrees, reaching 94 degrees.

Globally, 2015 is a shoo-in for hottest year in modern records. It looks like December is reinforcing that record.

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