Above-normal warmth in central US to have millions checking the calendar leading up to Christmas

Brandon Buckingham

Much of the north-central United States is buried under snow after a cold and wintry stretch of fall, but much warmer weather will make it feel more like mid-November during the official start of winter and leading up to the Christmas holiday.

The above-normal warmth will build just in time for the winter solstice, which will occur on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 11:19 p.m. EST.

The mercury will climb to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher Saturday for places like Oklahoma City, Denver and Rapid City, South Dakota.

The abnormal warmth will continue to expand northward and eastward on Sunday. Highs will be in the 40s for places like Minneapolis and Chicago before closing out the weekend.

Farther south across the Plains, temperatures well above average will have many questioning what month it is. By Sunday, temperatures in the 60s are forecast across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, Kansas and across portions of eastern Colorado.

The high at Denver International Airport is predicted to be 60 on Sunday, compared to a normal high of 42 for the date.

Although not quite as warm, a similar scenario is expected for places like Kansas City and St. Louis through this weekend and into early next week. Following bitter cold with highs hovering in the 20s during the middle of December, temperatures will be climb into the 50s for early next week. The weather will be a far cry from last weekend, when more than half of a foot of snow fell over these same areas.

"It will feel more like Thanksgiving than Christmas for many areas in the central U.S. leading up to the holiday as highs will be more on par with mid-November," AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.

While millions of holiday travelers may be delighted by the unusually warm and tranquil weather outlook, such a forecast may dash the hopes of those dreaming of a white Christmas. The blanket of snow across portions of the Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley will undoubtedly shrink through the weekend and into next week, decreasing the chance of a white Christmas for many.

The milder, dry weather will continue to expand eastward across the Midwest and Ohio Valley into early next week. Places like Detroit and Cleveland face slim odds of a white Christmas with the predicted mild weather pattern.

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