Blame El Nino if you can’t try out your new sled

GREENFIELD — White Christmas? Keep dreaming. It hasn’t been forecast to be this warm on Christmas Day in more than 25 years.

The National Weather Service has forecast a high on Christmas Day of 50 degrees; the last time the temperature reached the 50s on Christmas Day was 1987, when it was 53; and meteorologists say no snow is forecast for the foreseeable future.

El Niño — the weather phenomenon whose above-average sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean typically result in warmer temperatures — is partly responsible for the milder weather, meteorologist Dave Tucek said. Typically, high temperatures are in the upper 30s at this time of year. The normal snowfall total is about 4 inches. The area has received less than an inch since the beginning of December.

While the warmer weather has made for smoother commutes and coat-free holiday shopping, the missing flurries have some Hancock County residents feeling blue.

Alison Bishop-Morrell of Greenfield had been hoping to spend time outside with her three young children, having snowball fights or building snowmen. They’ll miss out on making those memories without snow blanketing their backyard.

“It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without snow,” she said. “There’s just something about pulling up to family’s homes and trying to run inside through the snow with a big pile of presents. It just always feels more like the holidays when there is snow.”

Though the mild weather is a bit unusual, it’s not unheard of in central Indiana, Tucek said.

Historical data from the National Weather Service reveals high temperatures have reached the upper 40s a half-dozen times in the past 25 years but haven’t reached the 50s except for that warm Christmas Day in 1987. The highest temperature on record for Christmas Day was 63 in 1982. Last year, it was 45.

Tucek said those hoping for a white Christmas, like Bishop-Morrell, won’t see snow for the remainder of the year, but flurries should make an appearance early next year.

He expects the weather to return to average in January. El Niño is weakening, and January and February won’t be as mild, he said.

“We will see snow at some point,” he said.

But Melissa Terry is one who has enjoyed this short reprieve. She grew up in Kentucky, where snowfall is traditionally lighter, and said she has never really enjoyed wicked winter weather.

As her children and her husband rush out to the yard for some winter fun, Terry watches from inside, bundled in a blanket.

The warmer temperatures this December have been a welcome departure from the norm, she said.

“I’d rather it be 90 degrees all year long,” she said with a laugh.

At a glance

Christmas temperatures in degrees for the last 10 years

2014: 45

2013: 27

2012: 36

2011: 48

2010: 34

2009: 48

2008: 32

2007: 46

2006: 43

2005: 43

Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or