Shirtless volleyball in New York City and frostbitten plants in Los Angeles… on Christmas? If something doesn’t seem right with this picture, you are not the only one taking note.
It was 72 degrees Fahrenheit in the Big Apple on December 24, and 44 degrees Fahrenheit in Hollywood on Christmas Day (two days later, it was 36 degrees Fahrenheit, tying the low from 1916.)
New York is typically around 41 degrees Fahrenheit on the holiday, while Los Angeles has a normal high of 68 degrees Fahrenheit when Santa comes to town. Temperatures will become less extreme by the end year end, but dozens of cities have already shattered historic highs and will set temperature records for the month of December.
This year marked the warmest Christmas in history in New York City, with mid-seventies on Christmas Eve (it was 75 degrees Fahrenheit on the Fourth of July this year) and 66 degrees Fahrenheit on the day of Christmas. That crushed previous records of 66 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Eve in 1996 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Day in 1982.
Ice skating, puffy coats, and hot cocoa were replaced by leisurely strolls and beach volleyball (yes, it happened) in Central Park, tank tops, and frosty treats. Ice cream trucks and frozen yogurt shops were surprisingly packed, while street vendors struggled to sell famed roasted chestnuts.
New York was not the only place experiencing bizarre extremes; countless states saw record heat. It was 86 degrees Fahrenheit in Tampa, Florida, 83 degrees Fahrenheit in Houston, Texas, 68 degrees Fahrenheit in Burlington, Vermont, and 67 degrees Fahrenheit in Boston, Massachusetts (where I rang in the holiday in a sleeveless dress without tights at our family celebration, while my grandmother had the windows open). Parts of the Arctic are upwards of 18 degrees Fahrenheit (or 72 degrees Fahrenheit, according to one account) warmer than typical, resulting in melting of permafrost, glaciers and sea ice.
Last month was the hottest November on record by a significant margin. According to NOAA’s 36 years of official tracking, November was the seventh consecutive month to hold this title—in a year that will be the hottest on record, a result of human-induced climate change boosted by a strong El Niño. As environmentalist Bill McKibben recently told the New York Times, "2015 didn’t just break the global temperature record—it crushed it.”
Winter scorchers, elevated flood levels, endless rainfall, unexpected frosts, record-breaking tornadoes, blizzard warnings, raging fires… one cannot ignore the extreme weather wreaking havoc across the globe, driven by El Niño and, yes, climate change.
You too can draw connections between the two in conversations or posts about this "crazy" weather! It seems that everyone took to social media to share their thoughts on the unseasonable temperatures over the Christmas holiday.
Actor Adrian Grenier posted a map of the “departure from normal” on Instagram. “It's Christmas Eve and 73° in NYC,” he wrote as a part of the caption.
The Jonas brothers and family took a Christmas stroll through a balmy Central Park, as captured by their father.
Chef José Andres spotted flowers in full bloom, noting the anomaly for DC this time of year.
Onetime teen heartthrob Jared Padalecki took full advantage of an Austin heatwave with a swim… on Christmas Eve.
A nearby fan then shared her very different Texas Christmas landscape in El Paso.
Vine megastar Carter Reynolds couldn’t stay mum about the cold LA temperatures.
One of his fans replied “it’s like spring in North Carolina,” after sharing a surprised take on the winter weather in her home state.
When tech entrepreneur and Silicon Valley investor Chris Sacca shared his photo of long-forgotten winter, it got a bevy of replies. A fellow techie shared a snapshot of a Christmas barbecue fired up in Long Island with the hashtag #globalwarming. Another follower replied “55 and sunny here in Michigan. it's freaking me out."
And some social media users are just plain sick of it.
Erin Schrode is a green girl and ecopreneur. As the “face of the new green generation,” the co-founder of Turning Green promotes global sustainability, youth leadership, environmental education, and conscious lifestyle choices. An award-winning orator and media personality, Erin has contributed to Fusion, speaks internationally, and consults with corporations and organizations on millennials, sustainability, and social good.