By DON STINE
Flip-flops, shorts, and t-shirts in the middle of December- in New Jersey? What is going on with the weather here?
Record warm temperatures were recorded in this area Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Dec. 12, 13 and 14 with temperatures almost 10 degrees above normal for the first half of December.
Kay Harris, owner of the Asbury Galleria in Asbury Park’s Convention Hall, said, even though she is on vacation in Florida, her employees raved about sales.
“Apparently they were outstanding. They said it was like summertime and it’s safe to say the weather was good for business,” she said.
And Harris said she “absolutely hopes” the weather continues this way.
James Kaufman, owner of Flying Saucers on Cookman Avenue, said he thought the weekend was good for various reasons in Asbury Park.
“It is closer to Christmas and we also hosted an arts and crafts stroll downtown,” he said.
But he said early weeks in December were really slow.
“I just feel people didn’t have the holiday spirit yet. A little snow would be nice- just a little. It would bring it a lot closer to Christmas time,” he said.
But some forecasters say people also need to prepare for some potentially bad weather.
Neptune Township Clerk Richard Cuttrell, who has a degree in meteorology and has his own storm weather web site, said this December is likely to be the warmest on record but don’t hold your breath for good weather all winter.
At some point in January, Cuttrell said the pattern will break down and winter-like temperatures will arrive.
“But it’s too soon to determine exactly when and to what degree this change will occur. The warmth this December is certainly unprecedented but recent winters have shown that the first and second halves of winter can be vastly different,” he said.
He said that after a few days of seasonal temperatures for the upcoming weekend and early next week, much above normal temperatures will return for Christmas.
“Since we will end the month on a warm note, it is likely that this December will be the warmest on record,” he said.
Cuttrell said the unusual warmth is caused by a persistent weather pattern which is not allowing cold air to move into the eastern half of the US.
“This pattern is not allowing storms to move near our area so, in addition to the warmth, rainfall has been below normal,” he said.
Last year, it was over 60 degrees on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and December was five degrees above normal. The pattern changed in early January and a very cold and snowy February and March followed.
“In 2010, we had a blizzard on the day after Christmas and almost 50 total inches of snow was recorded in December and January that winter. However, less than one inch of snow fell after January 27th,” he said.
There are years that stay mild or cold for virtually the entire winter. The winter of 2011-2012 was mild from start to finish with very little snow, while the winter of 2013-2014 was cold and stormy from December through March, he said.