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December 25, 2015

Philly's Christmas Eve broke records for warmest ever

With highs of 71, Philadelphia was warmer than Los Angeles

Santa probably ditched the red jacket and fur-lined cap last night in favor of shorts and a t-shirt, because it was the warmest Christmas Eve ever recorded in Philadelphia. As ABC 6 reported, Thursday's temperatures went as high as 71 degrees – a full ten degrees hotter than L.A.!

Many other cities also saw record-breaking highs: 72 degrees in New York; 68 in Boston; 71 in Washington, D.C. Not even Buffalo could dream of a white Christmas, as temperatures were in the low 60's.

The warm ocean current known as El Niño is one of the main causes of warm weather across the country, as PhillyVoice contributor John Bolaris pointed out. This season's El Niño is easily one of the top three recorded in history.

Also, remember the polar vortex that caused such icy-cold misery for a couple of years when it swooped down south? As meteorologist Matt Lanza told FiveThirtyEight, this year the polar vortex is playing nice and staying right where it belongs, "wound up tight and located over the North Pole."

Climate change is also a possible explanation, especially considering that 2015 was, for the planet as a whole, the warmest year ever recorded. However, Lanza warned that, at best, scientists might conclude that global warming exacerbated this season's warm weather, rather than directly causing it.

"When attribution studies are performed on this warm pattern (likely in the coming months), it is likely that they’ll conclude that it would have been exceptionally warm without the effects of climate change," he said. "It’s also likely, though, that they will conclude that climate change added a certain component to the warmth that would have otherwise been absent."

Read the full story here.