Warm temps may last through mid-January during DC region's El Nino winter

- The unusually warm temperatures being felt in the Washington, D.C. area will continue through the holiday week with a possibility of record highs on Christmas Eve.

If the forecast holds, and temperatures reach the 60s on Christmas Day, it could be one of the warmest ever for the region.

We are already experiencing one of the warmest Decembers in history with an average temp of 48.4 degrees and only two days with temperatures below 32.

But many locals fear that because it is unusually warm now it will be bitter cold as we move into the winter months.

Christopher Strong from the National Weather Service joined us and says we are experiencing what is known as an El Nino winter. Typically, El Nino winters are a result of the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The warm water leads to higher than usual amounts of heat and moisture in the atmosphere and can cause above normal temperatures over parts of North America.

Strong says it looks like warm temperatures will stick around in our area into at least early January. Strong says that two winters ago, a temperature shift began around the first of January. This past winter, he said, January was cold and February even colder.

This year, Strong says, a switch in patterns could happen, however, there is no strong indication that a cold cycle is on the way. He says that temperatures may drop on certain days in January, but for the most part, there will be no extended period of cold weather through the first part of the month.

With that being said, Strong says we should never completely rule out the possibility of snow. "Snow just takes the right combination of a cold blast coming down at the same time as a storm. It could be generally a warm pattern but you can get a day or two where things come together and you get snow -- or even a big snow."

And one more fact for those who are hoping to pass through winter without seeing any of the white stuff -- the D.C. area has had measurable snow in every winter since the Civil War!

So enjoy temps in the 70s on Christmas Eve -- maybe even hit the beach on Christmas Day -- just don’t get rid of your ice scrapers and snow shovels just yet!

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