It’s beginning to feel a lot like … Christmas? Well, not exactly if you are in the unexpectedly toasty south-central U.S. on Saturday.
Dec. 25 could be the warmest in more than 50 to 100 years for parts of that region, according to Accuweather.
“Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, all stand to match or top the record high for Dec. 25. this Saturday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. He added:
- Highs in the 70s and 80s, which will saturate the region, are more typical of early to mid-October.
- Record highs could be toppled in Memphis and Tulsa in particular – 76 in Memphis in 1889 and 73 in Tulsa in 1922.
- Christmas Eve was a sizzler in Texas. Wichita Falls hit 91 for the first time in the month of December. Galveston broke a daily record of 78, and Houston tied a daily record of 82 set in 1948.
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A month of ‘rare’ warm weather
December has already been a far-from-frosty month for much of the central and southern Plains and across the Rockies and Mississippi Valley.
While temperatures 5-10 degrees higher than average are not totally uncommon for a few days, Accuweather said, temperatures 10-12 degrees over an extended period – especially for an entire month – are “downright rare.”
Many cities in the south-central U.S. could surpass their warmest December on record, Accuweather predicted: Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago.
Along with the mild temperatures came a renewed risk of wildfires. The Weather Service in Dallas said “elevated fire danger will exist on Friday and Saturday (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) due to a combination of breezy southwest winds, low humidity and the recent rainfall deficit.”
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Wind gusts upward of 60 mph in Arizona, New Mexico and northern Texas swept the region, Accuweather reported. Magdalena, New Mexico, reported a peak gust of 68 mph.
Wet weather in the West; winter storms loom in the Northwest
Meanwhile, unrelenting wet weather battered a wide area from the California coast to Arizona in the days before Christmas. Both Flagstaff and Phoenix, Arizona, recorded rainfall totals of at least an inch within 24 hours. Phoenix had its wettest Christmas Eve in 80 years, Accuweather reported.
Winter was not missing in action everywhere. Multiple potent storms are expected to pummel the Northwest in the days after Christmas, Accuweather said, with a wintry mix of rain, snow and ice that could trigger travel troubles.
“On the heels of the sneaky, slippery snow event for parts of the Northeast and New England Thursday night into early Friday, a couple more quick-hitting waves of low pressure will cause some wintry concerns through the weekend into early next week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean DeVore said.
Contributing: Doyle Rice