The weather during December 2015 has been perplexing for Harford County residents with higher-than-normal temperatures and rain rather than snow, and Christmas Day feeling more like spring than early winter.
"We're looking at above-normal temperatures," National Weather Service meteorologist Isha Renta said Monday.
Weather conditions Monday were overcast, and temperatures were in the low 40s following a weekend warm enough that people could be seen wearing shorts and T-shirts while exercising or using Bel Air-area parks and athletic fields.
A year earlier, it had already snowed the day before Thanksgiving, and temperatures were freezing or below freezing. Public schools in Harford County were closed for 10 days in January, February and March because of snow.
"It's nice," Aberdeen resident Matt Burdeshaw said Monday of the current weather. "You can actually go outside."
Burdeshaw, 18, visited Bynum Run Park in Bel Air Monday afternoon with Rachel Amrhein, 19, of Bel Air. The pond was filled with ducks, sea gulls and a few swans. Ice was conspicuous by its absence.
This week's high temperatures are expected to be in the 50s Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but dipping to 32 degrees for New Year's Eve Thursday night, according to the forecast on the NWS' website. A chilly high of 41 degrees is predicted for Friday, New Year's Day.
Renta said the 14-day outlook, based on data she obtained from the NWS Climate Prediction Center, indicates temperatures that are "near normal" by the end of this week and "slightly above normal" next week.
"Right now it doesn't look like we might see snow, at least in the next 14 days," she said.
The normal high temperature for Harford County in late December is 39 degrees, and the normal low temperature is 24 degrees, Renta said.
Christmas Day temperatures broke records in the Mid-Atlantic region last Friday, as they hovered in the high 60s and low 70s during the day around Harford County and elsewhere.
The Baltimore area was soaked with rain by the evening, prompting flash flood warnings for the metro region. Renta said 1.08 inches had fallen at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport as of Friday evening.
Monday afternoon was again cloudy with some drizzle; there is a 90 percent chance of rain Tuesday and a 70 percent chance of rain Wednesday night. However, New Year's Day is expected to be mostly sunny, according to the forecast.
"I don't really like it, because it doesn't feel like winter, and I think it's bad for the planet," Amrhein said of the unseasonably warm temperatures.
She said she thinks the changes are "definitely from global warming."
Burdeshaw also blamed the El Niño weather pattern, which comes from periodic warming of water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.
El Niño has been in effect this year, and it is expected to continue through early 2016 and have a major impact on weather throughout the United States.
Renta, of the National Weather Service, said the recent unseasonable weather is the result of El Niño and "southerly winds that are bringing warm weather from the tropics."
The polar vortex effect pushed bitterly cold air down from Canada into the United States, including Maryland, during the winters of 2014 and 2015.
Amrhein is a student at Towson University, and Burdeshaw is a student at the University of Maryland at College Park. The warm weather this year has affected their campuses.
"It's easier to walk places without freezing," Amrhein said. "People never knew what to wear because it could be hot or cold."
A chill was definitely in the air, along with a slight breeze Monday. Amrhein and Burdeshaw were wearing sweat shirts and long pants.
Park visitors Gladys Wilson, of Bel Air, and her 7-year-old niece Jayden were bundled up, too, with scarves and heavy coats. Wilson's Yorkshire Terrier, Coco, was wearing a sweater as Wilson and her niece walked the dog around the pond.
Sea gulls could be seen puffing their feathers up to protect themselves from the cold.
"I'm loving it, except my tulips are coming up, daffodils, they're about 2 inches up," Wilson said of the recent warmth. "We have to have the cold weather to kill the bugs and to let the flower bulbs germinate."
Wilson noted "we won't be able to appreciate spring if we don't have some snow, but we're enjoying it, right Jayden?"
"I'm freezing!" Jayden replied.
Aegis Photo Editor Matt Button contributed to this report.