Dramatic warmup to thaw East Coast before New Year’s Eve
Temperatures will finally rebound across the eastern United States following a historically cold Christmas, but the forecast for New Year’s Eve is far from perfect.
A noticeable change in temperatures will arrive just in time for New Year’s Eve weekend across the Eastern Seaboard.
After a deep freeze settled in for millions of people last weekend, AccuWeather meteorologists say that progressively warmer conditions are forecast to spread across most of the eastern United States by week’s end, just in time for New Year’s Eve and perhaps a big rainstorm.
The arrival of the brutally cold air caused temperatures to tumble as much as 30 degrees in just a few hours last week, and the Arctic air lingered through the weekend resulting in the coldest Christmas in decades.
Record cold daily high temperatures were reported Saturday in the East. A high temperature of only 18 degrees was reported in Philadelphia, three degrees lower than the previous record of 21 last reached in 1989. Record low high temperatures were also observed farther south Saturday, including Knoxville, Tennessee, and Greensboro, North Carolina, where temperatures reached only 22 degrees and 26 degrees, respectively.
Temperatures in these areas rebounded slightly during the first couple of days of this week, since the Christmas weekend, but for folks hoping to get out of the deep freeze, relief is on the way in the final days of December.
"A noticeable change in temperature is expected for the eastern half of the country by the start of 2023," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines said.
A northward bulge in the jet stream from the Plains to the Atlantic coast will allow warm air to stream northward from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes for the second half of this week.
The warmup will start midweek across the center of the country, with cities such as Chicago and St. Louis experiencing temperatures above normal. After highs only in the 20s Tuesday, a high in the lower 50s is expected for Chicago by Thursday, almost 20 degrees above normal for the final days of December.
Noticeably warmer conditions already developed in cities like Dallas and Oklahoma City on Wednesday and will continue on Thursday. Temperatures during the second half of this week will hover 20 degrees or higher from early in the week. Highs will be in the 60s in Oklahoma City and near 70 in Dallas.
Temperatures across the Ohio Valley began to tick upward on Wednesday, but the most notable part of the warmup will arrive Thursday. Temperatures in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are forecast to rebound into the 50s, roughly 40 degrees higher than readings on Christmas Day.
During the balance of the week, the mild air will overspread the Eastern Seaboard. By Friday afternoon, temperatures will reach the 50s in cities like Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C. and even into the 60s in Raleigh, North Carolina, making it feel more like March or April, rather than late December.
The surge of warmer air will make a big difference between the final winter holidays of the year.
"There will be a vast change between the temperatures experienced on Christmas Day and those on New Year's Day. In some locations, temperatures could be 30 degrees higher in just a week's time," explained Kines.
Those reveling in the New Year festivities in New York City will be greeted with much milder conditions than on Dec. 25. As the minutes wind down Saturday evening at Times Square, temperatures may be hovering near 50 degrees, despite the likelihood of rain. On Jan. 1, high temperatures are expected in the upper 50s, instead of highs in the upper 20s from Christmas Day.
The most extreme change may be felt farther south across parts of Florida. Those taking to the Orlando amusement parks on Christmas Day were bundled up, with temperatures struggling to reach the mid-40s. Visitors ringing in the new year, however, could experience temperatures 35 degrees higher on Jan. 1. Highs are projected to be in the low 80s on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in central Florida.
While the milder conditions up and down the Eastern Seaboard will certainly make any outdoor plans more comfortable on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, pristine weather is not necessarily in the forecast.
Dry and warm weather could be replaced with wetter conditions across the Southeast, and even farther north through the Midwest and the Northeast, for the final days of 2022. There is the risk that fog could also become a problem for motorists and airline passengers in the East toward the end of the week and the start of the New Year's weekend.
"For those heading to Times Square in Manhattan on New Year's Eve to celebrate, waterproof shoes and a rain slicker may be just as valuable as noisemakers by the time the ball begins its descent," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. "While there is a chance that the bulk of the rain holds off in Manhattan for most of Saturday evening, there is a better chance that rain departs Philadelphia in time for the bulk of the Mummers Parade on New Year's Day.
The storm scheduled to hit the Northeast Saturday was already responsible for heavy rain, mountain snow, strong winds and power disruptions in the Pacific coast states Monday night and Tuesday.
AccuWeather will continue to provide updates on the weather across the U.S. for holiday travel and for the New Year's weekend in the coming days.
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