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Near Record Warmth Expected for Christmas Day in the High Country

By Nathan Ham

It has certainly been a warm start to winter in the High Country. High temperatures are expected to climb into the mid to upper 50s on Christmas Eve and into the 60s on Christmas Day, extenuating what has already been an unseasonably warm start to the winter months.

A La Nina weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean has been to blame for much of the warmer-than-usual air that has hit the area. La Nina conditions are present when the sea surface temperature across the eastern equatorial part of the Pacific Ocean is lower than average by roughly five to nine degrees. 

According to the latest weather forecast from Ray’s Weather Center, the area can expect near record warmth for Christmas Day with a high for Boone projected to reach 62 degrees. Temperatures will dip slightly back into the mid-50s for Sunday and Monday before returning to the mid-60s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Temperatures on those two days could also threaten to break previous high temperature records. 

The current record high for Boone on Christmas Day is 63 degrees set in 2015. It does not appear that it will get warm enough to set the all-time December record of 73 degrees set on December 12, 1931 and tied again on December 7, 1939. 

So far in December, only seven days have had a high temperature below 50 degrees. Six days have had high temperatures of 60 degrees or more. The warmest day of the month was on December 3 when the high temperature reached 69.5 degrees, just missing tying the all-time December record by 3.5 degrees. 

In addition to the unseasonably warm weather, the area has received very little precipitation, especially in December. According to Ray’s Weather Center, Boone has received less than a half-inch of rain in December and received only 1.08 inches of rain in the month of November. 

In the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Winter Outlook, a warmer, drier winter was predicted for the southeastern United States. 

“Consistent with typical La Nina conditions during winter months, we anticipate below-normal temperatures along portions of the northern tier of the U.S. while much of the South experiences above-normal temperatures,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief of the Operational Prediction Branch at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.