As the holiday season approaches, much of the United States is set to experience unusually warm temperatures, deviating 10 to 20°F above the seasonal average. This trend is attributed to a robust jet stream flowing east to west across the Pacific, bringing mild air and moisture to North America and preventing the intrusion of Arctic air from Canada.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in the West and the northern parts of the country are expected to stay above average, with the Midwest reaching highs 10-20 degrees beyond normal, ranging into the upper 40s and lower 50s.
From December 20 to 26, NOAA forecasts above-average temperatures throughout much of the U.S., including a significant portion of Alaska. However, those dreaming of a white Christmas may need to head to the northern tier or states like Alaska, where historical data suggests a better chance of having at least 1 inch of snow on Christmas Day.
This unusual warmth aligns with global climate patterns, as 2023 is predicted to be the hottest year on record. Climate change is intensifying heat waves, lengthening their duration, and increasing their frequency. Canada, responsible for 23% of global wildfire carbon emissions in 2023, faced a historic and prolonged fire season, emphasizing the broader impact of climate change on extreme weather events.
The recent COP28 climate summit acknowledged the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. However, the World Meteorological Organization warns that despite such efforts, the world remains approximately 1.4°C above the pre-industrial era. With carbon dioxide concentrations at record levels, temperatures are expected to continue rising in the coming decades, underscoring the race to address climate change and its consequences.