It’s been a hot year — the hottest year on record, according to climate experts.
I know I’m not the only one thinking this doesn't feel like normal winter weather.
I spent Christmas Day this year wearing shorts. Shorts! And when I was packing for the holidays, I didn’t even bother throwing a jacket into my suitcase because the forecast showed a full week of balmy days with highs in the 80s.
The records show it, too: It's been a hot winter.
<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-53116b1e-f37c-ff55-167b-8533313419c3"></span></p><p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3MTcxNS9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODM0Mzg2NX0.isJDwcrhg1fmzYA1W042Tw1j7Or6ALnSdc5V4G09kLU/img.gif?width=980" id="e7bb7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="36e521ae6d0523ec66b952bd4ab96b82" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p class="image-caption">It’s pretty easy to feel like Jake Gyllenhaal in "The Day After Tomorrow" when you have a bigger risk of getting heatstroke than seeing snow in late December.<span></span></p><h2>The good news, though, is that global warming isn’t solely responsible for the warm weather this month.</h2><p><a href="https://www.climate.gov/news-features/blogs/enso/november-el-ni%C3%B1o-update-it%E2%80%99s-small-world" target="_blank">Climatologists say</a> we’re in the middle of El Niño right now, which happens every few years. And this time around, it’s been <a href="http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/wcasp/enso_update_latest.html" target="_blank">particularly strong</a>.</p><p>How does El Niño work? Every few years, the water in the Pacific Ocean gets a little warmer than usual during the winter. <strong>G</strong><strong><strong>r</strong>eenhouse gases warm the Earth, oceans absorb that heat, and then El Niño drives up the temps a few extra degrees.</strong></p><p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3MTcxNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDM1MjUwN30.ktQkfjWhFE565wWlOfdoPuWblujhdpAfamvxfpn96x4/img.jpg?width=980" id="0d1c7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e46bf684d200f4220e517c7df5fb0abb" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p class="image-caption">A summer beach day? Nope, just people enjoying the beach on Dec. 13, 2015, in Fairfield, Connecticut. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images<span class="redactor-invisible-space">.</span></p><p><strong></strong>That little change in temperature patterns can spiral into massive changes in weather around the world, making certain areas (like the northern U.S.) drier and warmer while other places get a lot more rainfall.</p><h2>Climate change has played a role in making our weather more extreme, though.</h2><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/28/461247410/experts-explain-why-2015-is-a-warm-one-for-earths-climate" target="_blank">Some climate scientists are saying</a> that <strong>global warming has "supercharged" El Niño</strong>, making this year's weather patterns <em>waaay</em> more intense than they'd usually be.</p><p>So we're seeing summery days in the middle of the winter — and worse. <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/27/uk-floods-and-extreme-global-weather-linked-to-el-nino-and-climate-change" target="_blank">Across the globe</a>, there have also been droughts, flooding, hurricanes, and fires.</p><h2>In short, El Niño is the reason behind most of these weird weather events. Global warming is making that weather more powerful and destructive.</h2><p>So no, you don’t have to worry about never seeing a snowy Christmas ever again because El Niños come and go.</p><p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3MTcxOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNDg3NTkxNH0.FgQS_KxE37BZtCf0T0CD2mgvaBKbenehuPR5bRR4L2k/img.jpg?width=980" id="ab469" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1cfe12b197262e282a3e3f7d6ae0e4fe" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p class="image-caption">It was almost 70 degrees in New York City on Christmas Eve this year. Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images.<br></p><p>But unless we can rein in greenhouse gases, you should probably expect to see more erratic, extreme weather in the future, too. Here's to a northeastern winter full of mittens, scarves, hot cocoa ... and shorts.</p>
Keep Reading Show less