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East's winter summerland: Toasty temps return for Christmas

A freakish December heat wave has shattered more than 1,000 high temperature records in the central and eastern U.S. so far this month, and after a brief weekend cool-down, the warmth will likely return in time for Christmas.

"Another big surge of warmth is in store for the week of Christmas in the eastern U.S.," AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. "A number of locations in the East could be looking at highs well into the 60s to near 70 on Christmas Day."

This does not bode well for folks in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic dreaming of a white Christmas, nor for ski areas that depend on both natural and man-made snow for their business.

As of Monday, only 3% of the Northeast was snow-covered, compared with 81% on this date last year, according to the National Weather Service. Of the dozens of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic ski areas listed on the Ski Central website, only a handful are open, mainly in far northern New England.

Buffalo remained snowless on Monday, marking the longest the city has gone in a snow season without receiving its first measurable snow, weather.com reported.

Meanwhile, the West has seen plenty of cold and snow this month. Over the weekend, while drivers fumed, ski areas in California, Oregon, Nevada and Idaho welcomed a winter storm that brought 20 inches of snow to many locations, weather.com reported.

Monday, the storm brought heavy snowfall from the central Rockies to the central and northern Plains. The storm will continue to bring snow to these areas, as well as the Upper Midwest, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Normally snowy Green Bay picked up more than an inch of rain late Sunday and Monday, causing street flooding but otherwise no widespread problems, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.

In the East, dozens more records were set across 18 states Monday as temperatures soared as much as 30 degrees above average.

The weather this past weekend in many locations was more typical of October than December, AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rathbun said. Some of the temperatures broke records that had been set in the 1870s and 1880s, according to AccuWeather.

The warmth is primarily due to the impacts of climate troublemaker El Niño, which brings milder-than-average weather to much of the nation.

"The warmth in the East last weekend was set up by a very strong jet stream that lifted well north of the eastern United States," AccuWeather meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

This is typical of an El Niño pattern.