Unseasonably warm temperatures blanketed the Northeast, Southern Californians prepared for snow and ice, and deadly tornadoes swept through the South, claiming at least 14 lives, making Thursday an atypical Christmas Eve in many parts of the United States. Twisters that dotted the landscape from Michigan to Arkansas on Wednesday continued Thursday, along with torrential rains and strong winds. Roads were flooded in Georgia, while other states like Alabama experienced mudslides.
Mississippi was hit particularly hard by tornadoes. The death toll in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and other Southern states had reached 14, ABC News reported. Many others were injured, and dozens of homes were damaged or destroyed. Tornado weather is typical in the spring, but can happen anytime cold air meets hot air.
— John P. Moore III (@WxTrey) December 25, 2015
Meanwhile, holiday travelers in Southern California prepared for a cold system Thursday that was expected to bring rain, cold and snow in mountainous areas. Portions of Interstate 5, the main highway on the West Coast, were to become blanketed with snow and ice Thursday night into Friday morning, the Los Angeles Times reported. Forecasters also were expecting wind gusts of up to 45 mph.
“If somebody is planning to travel out there, they should find another route,” said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service.
Perhaps the strangest weather took place in the Northeast, where along the Eastern Seaboard summer-like temperatures made for a green Christmas. It was the warmest Christmas Eve in the history of New York City, where residents and tourists alike strolled the streets in shorts and T-shirts as temperatures hit 72 degrees. It reached 71 degrees in both Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., while normally icy Boston saw the mercury hit 68 degrees.
Not everyone was enjoying the balmy temperatures, however -- especially when there was no hope for a white Christmas in sight.
“It’s my favorite part of New York in the wintertime — Manhattan in the snow,” Colin Feeney of Queens told the New York Post. “I miss seeing the snow covering the Christmas lights. It feels like spring, not like Christmastime.”