Image: Skaters are pictured at the skating rink at Rockefeller Center during unseasonably warm weather on Christmas eve in the Manhattan borough of New York December 24, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK (Reuters) – New Yorker Tyler Hickey usually spends Christmas Eve snowboarding on the nearest mountain. This year, he’s in a T-shirt and jeans while traversing Manhattan’s Bryant Park ice skating rink, which is melting into patchy puddles in record high temperatures.
“Last year, it was snowing like every day,” Hickey, 22, said as he caught his breath with friend Raj Latcha, 27, at the edge of the popular rink.
“The weather now is like summer,” Latcha said as young women in crop tops and men in shorts skated by to the tune of “O Come All Ye Faithful” played in smooth jazz on big overhead speakers.
The two were among many in the city enjoying the very un-winter-like weather as New York City smashed its record for the warmest Christmas Eve. The forecast for the coming days has melted any hopes for a snowy Christmas and New Year.
Temperatures hit the low-70s by midday, easily topping the previous record of 63 degrees in 1996, according to the National Weather Service.
“It looks like it will be warmest December on record,” NWS meteorologist Carlie Buccola said.
The typical temperature in New York City for this time of year is 41 degrees and the average first measurable snowfall is on Dec. 9.
The continued warm weather expected in the next week has delighted residents like Tony Batista, 59. “It’s like paradise,” said Batista, who wore a Kobe Bryant NBA jersey and shorts to take in the city’s holiday activities outdoors.
But people like Tegan Jones, a 25-year-old Australian tourist exploring Central Park with friends, had broken Christmas dreams.
“We came to New York for a white Christmas and so far it’s pretty warm, about the same temperature as back home,” she said while runners went by in shorts.
Jones would take little satisfaction from knowing that the polar jet stream, which separates warm air from the cold, is pushing to the north, according to Buccola. New York is on the warm side of the jet stream, an affect that typically happens during the weather phenomenon known as El Nino.
New York City is not alone as the entire Northeast is getting a blast of heat. From Florida to Maine, high temperatures were setting records and holiday plans were changing course because of it.
At this time last year, Terry Hills golf course near Buffalo, New York, had closed for the season after being buried under a heap of snow. On Thursday, some 115 golfers, dressed in polo shirts and khakis, booked tee times at the course.
Rick Davis, who runs the Farm by the River Bed and Breakfast with Stables in North Conway, New Hampshire, counts the holiday season as one of his busiest times for taking patrons on sleigh rides.
Instead of 2 feet of snow, the sleighs will be pulled this holiday season past more than a mile of open fields, mountain views and the Saco River on wheels along dirt paths.
Davis’ wife, Charlene Browne, said people were mostly understanding of the no-snow excursion.
“I think people, they have good attitudes most of the time,” Browne said. “They’re creative, they substitute.”
Despite not being Christmas-like, the balmy conditions in the Northeast still was better than the deadly storms, including tornadoes, that hit the South on Wednesday.
(Additional reporting by Lucas J. Jackson; Editing by Ben Klayman and Bill Trott)
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