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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Summer

by: Raja Mishra and April Simpson    1 December 2006

Not long before Boston officials lit the city's Christmas tree in an annual seasonal rite, the area broke a 125-year-old record for the high temperature for the date yesterday when the mercury hit 69 degrees at 1:43 p.m.

To some, the unusually balmy weather was an unexpected delight. To others, it was downright ominous. "I thought to myself, 'It has to be global warming,' " said Mike Carey, 39, who was dripping with sweat after jogging along the Charles River.

Not so, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Simpson, who spent much of the day pouring cold water on global warming inquiries. He explained that the cause was a stalled weather system above Alaska that prevented the typical early winter jet stream from pushing cold weather to the Eastern United States. That left a vacuum filled by warm air from the Gulf of Mexico, resulting not only in a record high for Nov. 30, but a November that was one of the five warmest ever recorded, Simpson said. At Revere Beach, crowds more usual for summer lined up at Kelly's Roast Beef, taking their sandwiches and burgers to the beach pavilions for seaside lunches.

In the Back Bay, shoppers strolled along Newbury Street in short sleeves and, in a few cases, shorts. Jessica Wagle, 22, had no intention of buying anything at Newbury Street's pricey boutiques. She only wanted to enjoy the freakish warmth.

"We're real lucky," said Wagle, who wore a thin, black DKNY T-shirt. "It's nice that we don't have to bundle up and can just walk out and feel the fresh air."

But those who like their seasons well behaved need not fret long. "We could get some snow by Sunday," said Simpson. The Sunday night forecast calls for temperatures in the low 20s and a 40 percent chance of light snow.