Lucy Wallace, a recent transplant from San Diego, was warned about the bone-chilling winters of her new hometown of Minneapolis. She bought a winter coat, two pairs of boots and metal spikes for $900.
So she was immediately puzzled and relieved by the record-breaking warm temperatures that resulted in a rare snow-free winter holiday week in the upper Midwest.
“I spent hundreds of dollars on a new wardrobe and winter gear that has never been used,” said Ms. Wallace, 35, who ran five miles on Christmas Day in a T-shirt. “I'm wearing my San Diego wardrobe in December in Minneapolis.”
A high of 54 degrees made this Christmas Day the warmest in the Minneapolis area. National Weather Service. Across much of the region, people struggled for days into the new year in what felt like a mild autumn. Ice fishing is especially dangerous on lakes covered with thin ice.
A Hack for Hosting Large Holiday Gatherings Failed “I think of all the Minnesota families who rely on porches as extra freezers when it's 50 degrees outside to entertain during Christmas,” said Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. Wrote in books.
A warm or snowless Christmas in Minnesota is not unprecedented. But climate change is likely to make such days more common. Jessica Hellman, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, said.
“Experiencing 50 yesterday was a huge cultural shift and how disorienting it was from a geographic perspective,” Dr. Hellman said in an interview Tuesday. “It's a visceral sense of what climate change looks and feels like for people who are used to living in a particular climate.”
In northern Minnesota, emergency workers are warning people to stay away from lakes covered in unusually thin ice.
Last week, a Cessna plane landed on Upper Red Lake, breaking through the ice, according to Beltrami County Sheriff Jason Riggs.
“During landing, the lack of snow made it difficult for the aircraft to slow down,” he said said in a statement. “Eventually the plane crashed into an area of thin ice and the nose of the plane broke into open water.”
Two men aboard a plane from Michigan who had gone ice fishing for a day were rescued.
In nearby Becker County, a 67-year-old man was found dead Saturday after his ATV plowed through thin ice. According to the Becker County Sheriff's Office.
Ted Pandey, president of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Fishing Association, said ice-fishing tournaments in much of the state have been pushed back at least a week as winter anglers impatiently wait for the cold to begin.
“I know nature does this and it's going to go back at some point; It's just a matter of time,” Mr. Pandey said. “Once that happens, there will be a mad rush to get out of there.”
Coaching a high school fishing team in Kiel, Wis., about 45 miles south of Green Bay, Mr. Pandey said on December 10, there was three inches of snow in his area – enough to walk on. Not anymore.
“Everything is gone,” he said. “Everybody's getting their boats back where the ice was.”
According to Cameron Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Milwaukee, Milwaukee is on track for its warmest December and its warmest year of the year, having recorded seven days above 50 degrees so far this month.
On Christmas Day, the high was 52 — well above the average high of 34 — and it dropped to 48 overnight, the warmest low on record for the date, Mr. Miller said.
With “only a trace” of snow this month, it's not the best season for winter sports. “I'm an avid cross-country skier, and this kind of weather is miserable for someone like me,” said Mr. Miller said.
Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis, said he enjoyed taking his daughter to the playground in late December, a month later than in years past. An avid runner, he appreciated the lack of ice and snow on the trails and sidewalks. But there is something deeply disturbing about his first snow-free Christmas in Minneapolis, Mr. Frey said. Combating climate change is a priority.
“Any enjoyment of the beauty is overshadowed by the worry of what's going on,” Mr. Frey said. “It's a very strange and confusing pleasure because it makes you wonder what's still to come.”
According to the National Weather Service, unseasonably warm weather is expected to move east on Tuesday and Wednesday, with high temperatures rising 10 to 20 degrees above normal from the upper Midwest across the Great Lakes. Moderate temperatures are also forecast for the East Coast, with highs in the 50s in the Mid-Atlantic and 60s in the Carolinas.
Scientists say it's difficult to attribute an unusual weather event to climate change. But there is no doubt that America has winter has become milder in recent years.
Among the casualties of this year's cold winter is the Minnesota Snow Festival, which features a giant maze of snow and ice. It was canceled last week.
“The weather didn't cooperate and we weren't able to deliver the experience we were hoping for,” Minnesota Ice chief executive Robbie Harrell said in a statement.
A reverse of this strange winter is the absence of a certain type of batch complaint beginning in November, Mr. Frey said.
“Our record on snow plowing complaints is pretty poor,” he joked. “Our plow drivers are very fast and efficient; They're trying a new strategy, and it's clearly working.
John Keefe Contributed report.