Record high temperatures are forecast this weekend for the U.S. Northeast from Washington to the New York area.
New York’s high is expected to reach 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 Celsius) on Dec. 22, while Washington may see 73 and Philadelphia 71, according to the National Weather Service.
“It looks like Sunday is the warmest day for the I-95 corridor, and it’s probably on that day records can be challenged,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.
The highest reading for Dec. 22 in New York’s Central Park was 63 in 1998, and the weather service expects that again, said David Stark, a meteorologist for the agency in Upton, New York. Records will probably be set at both LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport, he said.
The high for the date at LaGuardia is 64, while 65 is expected, and at JFK the old mark of 62 should be beaten by 2 degrees, Stark said. The previous records also were set in 1998.
“The thing we have to keep an eye on is cloud cover,” Stark said.
He said if more rain falls than is forecast, the air will be cooler and temperatures may fail reach records.
The high in Philadelphia is expected to reach 61 tomorrow, the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and 71 the next day, according to the weather service.
The record in Philadelphia for tomorrow is 66, set in 1895, and for the next day the mark is 64, reached in 1998, according to the Pennsylvania State Climatologist at Penn State University in State College.
Washington’s high for Dec. 22 is 72, set in 1889, said Calvin Meadows, a weather service meteorologist in Sterling, Virginia.
By Dec. 24, the high in New York is expected to be 34 and in Philadelphia 38, according to the weather service.
As the East Coast warms, an area extending from the Texas Panhandle northeast to Michigan will have snow and ice over the weekend, Kines said.
“Someone is going to pick up 9, 10, 11, or 12 inches of snow in that area,” Kines said. “If you have to do any traveling Saturday into Sunday, it’s probably the corridor to avoid.”
Winter storm warnings and weather advisories stretch from Texas to Michigan. Farther east, flood watches have been posted from the Texas-Oklahoma line to western New York.
Kines said it’s possible that some states along the Gulf of Mexico may have tornadoes over the weekend.
There is a moderate risk of severe weather along the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee, to Louisiana tomorrow, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
A larger area including Houston, New Orleans, Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee, has a slight risk of severe thunderstorms, damaging wind gusts and tornadoes.
After this weekend, temperatures will begin to drop across most of the U.S. In Chicago, readings are expected to fall from a high of 37 degrees today to 18 on Dec. 24, according to the weather service.
“The cold air that is coming in the middle part of the country is pretty impressive,” Kines said.
The New Year may enter with a large part of the continental U.S. colder than normal, said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC.
Forecast models project another round of polar air may push southward into the U.S., and Rogers predicts temperatures will drop 5 to 8 degrees below normal across much of the central U.S. including Chicago, Dallas and Houston from Dec. 30 to Jan. 3.
“These trends could lead to a very cold start to January over the lower 48, but again, given the volatility seen this winter, the outlook is cautiously colder,” Rogers said from his office in Bethesda, Maryland.
January marks the coldest month of the year in the U.S. and is when the most natural gas is consumed for heating. Colder-than-normal temperatures, especially in Eastern and Midwestern cities, tend to increase energy consumption as people use more heat to keep homes and businesses warm.
Power generation accounts for 32 percent of U.S. natural gas use, according to the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. About 49 percent of all homes use the fuel for heating.
For Dec. 27, the average normal temperature in New York is 35 degrees, according to MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In Boston it’s 32; in Chicago, 25; St. Louis, 33; Houston, 53; and Calgary, 18.
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