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Christmas in Southern California: Forecast predicts warmest in the country

While most of the rest of the country shivers, summer-like weather will be hitting Southern California for the holiday weekend.

Forecasts are showing the region could be the warmest spot celebrating Christmas Day, with temperatures in the 70s across the region and some areas could even hit upward of 80 degrees.

“It will be borderline summery for some spots here,” said Brian Adams, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Potentially, it’s looking like the warmest spot in the country is going to be here in Southern California. It’s going to be great.”

It could be a good weekend to hit the beach and snap selfies on the sand, with plenty of places along the coast decked out for the holidays.

Or, if you prefer a more seasonal feel, you can soak in the snowy sights in mountains just an hour or two from home. But even the local mountains won’t be nearly as cold as many parts of the country.

Adams shared some regions that will likely be envying us over the weekend: Minneapolis is expecting a high of 5 degrees; areas of the Dakotas and into Illinois are expecting to celebrate in the single digits and near the Great Lakes temps are going to be in the teens.

The coldest for Christmas Day is expected to be Rolla, North Dakota at the Canadian border with a high of minus 2.

That’s warmer than earlier this week, when a Siberian cold front dropped the temperature 37 degrees in one hour on Wednesday, Dec. 22, in Denver, which was setting up for one of the coldest days on record on Thursday, with a wind chill that was expected to make things feel as low as 50 degrees below zero across the plains and mountain region, according to The Denver Post. 

Even Miami, which is typically the warmest place to be during winter months, will be a mild 62 for the Christmas weekend. Other areas of Florida, such as Tampa and Orlando, will be in the low-50s.

A closer look at Southern California temps forecast areas to be about 9 degrees to 15 degrees warmer than normal for Christmas Eve, and 10 degrees to 17 degrees above the average for this time of year on Christmas Day.

Typically this time of year thermometers are reading in the low- to mid-60s.

Coastal areas of Orange County through Los Angeles are expected to be in the low- to mid-70s, while further inland will be in the mid- to upper-70s.

San Bernardino and Riverside counties are both expected to have a high temperature of about 76 degrees Saturday and 78 degrees on Christmas Day. The San Gabriel Valley is expected to be between 75 degrees and 77 degrees.

Some areas, including near Palm Springs, might even break the 80 degree mark and could end up being the warmest in the country, Adams said.

So, what will you do with this beautiful weather?

Christmas is approaching and at least here in Southern California, shorts and t-shirts will be fitting attire as temperatures are expected to reach mid to upper 70s,
in Long Beach on Thursday, December 22, 2022. Luna watches her owners play a round of beach volleyball. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Christmas is approaching and at least here in Southern California, shorts and t-shirts will be fitting attire as temperatures are expected to reach mid to upper 70s,
in Long Beach on Thursday, December 22, 2022. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Christmas is approaching and at least here in Southern California, shorts and t-shirts will be fitting attire as temperatures are expected to reach mid to upper 70s,
in Long Beach on Thursday, December 22, 2022. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

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Soak in the sea

Have relatives in town and want to show off the beautiful beaches? There’s a few things to know before you go.

The winter “king tides” hit this weekend, creating big tidal swings that will change the coastal landscape throughout the day.

In the morning hours, tides will reach nearly 7 feet, meaning some of your favorite beaches will be underwater or only have small slivers of beach to stroll.

Citizen scientists like to explore during these tidal extremes because they show planners what the coast will likely look like with sea level rise. The King Tides Project urges people to take photos — safely — of their favorite stretches of coastline to document areas that look vulnerable.

Surfers may be excited by a fun pulse of west swell coming through, expected to be in the moderate 3- to 5-foot range, but the bump in swell could mean trouble for low-lying areas prone to flooding.

Coastal cities have built up sand berms in the weeks leading up to the high tides to protect parking lots, homes and infrastructure, and Seal Beach put out a notice that sand bags are available for residents.

“You factor in those higher water levels with those building surf heights, it could raise concerns for those lower-lying areas,” Adams said.

If you go for an afternoon stroll on the sand, however, you’ll find the opposite: Extremely low tides will expose the intertidal zone, making creatures that live beneath the sea and their habitats visible as rocky outcroppings are exposed. Remember, look but don’t touch or take.

Some great tidepool viewing areas include Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove, San Pedro and Palos Verdes.

If you want to soak in some holiday vibes while at the beach, there are plenty of places decked out with lights and decorations.

Most piers have lights that make for epic sunset scenes and some, including the San Clemente Pier, even feature Christmas trees. Manhattan Beach’s pier is a majestic sight, with holiday lights coming off the Roundhouse Aquarium and strung along the entire pier.

Crystal Cove State Beach has a tree right on the sand with the ocean in the backdrop, an oh-so-California backdrop for your annual holiday photo. Newport Dunes has a festive set up with lit-up decorations floating on the bay’s water, the reflections making for a sparkly scene. Long Beach’s bay is also know for its floating Christmas trees.

Stroll around any of the harbors – Newport Beach, Dana Point, Alamitos Bay and Redondo Beach – and you’ll find plenty of places that make for postcard-worthy shots.

While the air will be warm and it may be tempting to cool off in the ocean, be warned that water temps are in the chilly low-60s.

Prefer a white Christmas?

Some people might say “bah humbug” to the warm weather, preferring a white Christmas instead.

The local mountains will be warmer than normal for this time of year, but they will still be chilly enough that you might actually need a light jacket. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper-50s.

A recent storm dumped several inches of new snow at local resorts and some of that has stuck around despite the recent sunny days.

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You might even see Santa Claus taking a break from the toy making. Snow Valley is having its Selfies with Santa on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 23 and 24, where skiers and snowboards can get photo ops on the mountain with the jolly man while he shreds the slopes.

Kevin Somes, general manager of Snow Valley in Running Springs, said the snow is still in great shape heading into the holiday weekend.

“It’s better to have a holiday period sunny and clear, rather than having to put on chains and drive in the snow,” he said. “It’s a great time to come up. I think people are really excited about the snow and we’ll have a really good holiday period.”

John McColly, Mountain High chief marketing officer, said crowds have been hitting the slopes throughout the holiday break, but Christmas Day tends to have lighter crowds.

“Christmas Day is a great time to come, it’s not completely empty because there’s a lot of nationalities that don’t celebrate Christmas, but it’s not as busy as New Year’s Day,” he said. “We have plenty of snow.”

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