Overnight lows dipped only to 77 degrees at Palm Beach International Airport, a new record in a season where temperatures haven’t fallen below 60 degrees yet.
The previous overnight record was 76 degrees set in 2014. The National Weather Service won’t confirm the record until this afternoon, but at 8 a.m. it’s not getting any cooler.
Normal overnight lows for this time of year are 58 degrees – 19 degrees below this morning’s reading.
And it doesn’t look like any break is on the way.
“This weather is pretty stale all the way through the weekend,” said meteorologist Kurt Van Speybroeck. “Because of the high pressure we’ll continue to see easterly winds off the Atlantic bringing little surges of moisture and humidity this way.”
Christmas Eve will feel more like Easter in Palm Beach County, with high temperatures forecast to reach into the 80s and little break from the hot humid pattern through the weekend.
Read about why this year’s Christmas full moon is so rare here.
The culprit for the steamy temps this late into December is apersistent high pressure system spinning clockwise over Bermuda and flooding Florida, the mid-Atlantic and New England with warm tropical air.
Meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Miami said Thursday should hit 86 degrees, with Christmas Day cranking up to 85.
While the warm holiday temperatures in Palm Beach County may not break records — Dec. 25, 1941 was 87 degrees — cities throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England are expected to top previous heat records Thursday and Friday.
Christmas Day is expected to be near 70 degrees in Washington, D.C., 65 degrees in New York’s Central Park and close to 60 degrees in Boston.
“For millions of people across the southern and eastern U.S., Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day will be the warmest in living memory, and in some cases the warmest in more than a century of record keeping,” wrote meteorologist Bob Henson in a blog for Weather Underground.
Winter storms preceding a cold front heading east have triggered tornado watches in northeast Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. Flood watches were in effect Wednesday for parts of central Georgia and the Carolinas.
But that cold front is not expected to reach South Florida. Instead it will be rebuffed by the high pressure system.
“A colleague said it looks more like a summertime pattern, but it’s winter,” Van Speybroeck said.
In Florida, southeast winds gusting to more than 20 mph have forecasters warning of high rip current risks through Sunday off beaches from Miami to Jupiter.
Long range, Van Speybroeck said there may be a break in the heat closer to the New Year.
“There’s not even any dry air,” he noted. “It’s just very much tropical.”
The normal high temperature for West Palm Beach in late December is 74 degrees, with a low of 59.
For the record, the high temperature on Easter — April 5 — was 84 degrees this year.