A major snowstorm blankets states from South Dakota to Wisconsin, forcing cancellation of over 500 flights.
Winter has well and truly set in across western parts of the US, with some areas reporting more than 50cm of snow this past weekend. But it’s a very different story further east, where December heat records, dating back 130 years, continue to be broken.
Large parts of the northeastern US and eastern Canada have yet to receive any measurable snow this winter.
Temperatures remain around 10C to 15C above average, as warm southerly winds continue to flow across the area.
Temperatures in Ottawa have barely dipped below freezing this month. On Tuesday, the Canadian capital had a high of 8C (last Friday it reached 12C). This is 16C above the average maximum of -4C.
Buffalo, in upstate New York, remains snow-free, marking the longest the city has gone in a snow season without getting its first proper snow. The previous record was way back on December 3, 1899.
The unseasonably warm weather has hurt the region’s ski industry. Most ski resorts don’t even need the snow because they have snow-making machines, but they do need cold weather to allow it to settle.
Only three percent of the northeast is snow-covered right now (mainly in the far north of New England). According to the National Weather Service, there was 81 percent coverage this time last year.
There will be a brief cool down this weekend, but warmer weather is expected to return by the time the festive season comes around.
Many parts of the eastern US can expect highs of around the mid to high teens again on Christmas Day.
El Nino (which is Spanish for the Child, ie Christ, referring to its original occurrence at Christmas time) is responsible for this.
As a rule, it brings warmer than average weather to the northeastern US, drier weather to the Midwest, and wetter weather to the south and west.