BOSTON – Forget ice skating and tobogganing. This year, outdoor grilling, golfing and children frolicking in T-shirts and shorts, skipping rope and playing soccer were far more common activities in the Northeast in December.
Temperature records were shattered across the region, according to the National Weather Service, which has released some preliminary month-end numbers.
The average temperature in Boston for the month was 45.4 degrees, or nearly 11 degrees above normal, according to numbers through Wednesday. The previous warmest December on record was 2006 when the average was 41 degrees.
The average temperature in New York City's Central Park was 51, or 13.3 degrees higher than normal for the month, and Burlington, Vermont, is running about 6 degrees above the old record for the average temperature for the month.
Concord, New Hampshire, bested a record of 35.4 degrees that had stood since 1891. Portland, Maine, beat a record of 34.8 from 2001. Both cities were running about 3 to 4 degrees ahead of the old records as the year drew to a close.
In Providence, Rhode Island, the temperature reached 50 degrees on 21 December days, shattering the previous record of 13 days.
"A few days of 50-degree weather in December is not unusual, what was so unusual this year is that it was such a prolonged pattern of warmer weather," said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Some people loved the warmth, while others, including those who rely on the cold to make a living, loathed it. It was a mixed blessing for farmers.
Mike Lydon, of Waltham, Massachusetts, took advantage of the warmth by getting outside more.
"You have to enjoy it while you can," he said as shoveled out a parking spot Wednesday, a day after the area's first snowstorm of the season when temperatures finally returned to near normal ranges. "I wish it had lasted longer because I know I am going to be cooped up for a few months now."
At Wachusett Mountain ski area in Princeton, Massachusetts, business was off 20 to 25 percent, spokesman Tom Meyers said.
"This has been one of the toughest Decembers we've had," he said. The area opened on weekends only sin the first month of the season. There has been no natural snow, and it's been too warm to make snow.
The warmth has helped farmers in some ways, hurt them in others, said John Lebeaux, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
The warmth has been good for growing cover crops, like winter rye, and the harvesting of some crops, including lettuce and kale, continued into December, he said.
But as far as crops planted in the fall, including garlic, the warm weather has hurt because it has caused some top growth. Insects have also continued to flourish, he said.
Winter enthusiasts needn't worry, said Simpson, the National Weather Service meteorologist.
"At least the first two or three weeks of January are going to be more normal," he said.