Miami Valley takes to outdoors for warmest Christmas since 1982

Thick winter socks given as Christmas gifts this week will likely be left with tags on for a couple more days.

Reaching 62 degrees, Christmas was the warmest the Miami Valley has experienced since 1982. Since records began, Dayton has only reached the 60s on Christmas three times. This year was the fourth.

The unusually warm December temperatures, combined with many people having time off work this week, made for crowded parks, bustling downtown sidewalks and a busy Yellow Springs bike trail. Forecasts say T-shirt temperatures will begin to disappear this weekend.

Christmas Day 2019 one of warmest on record

Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said as the region heads into the weekend, colder air to the north and west will make its way back into the area on Sunday.

“When I say colder, it’s going to actually be more seasonable,” Vrydaghs said. “So we’ll get into the upper 30s and 40s into the new year, but even then that will still be considered above average because our typical high is around 36 degrees.”

The first heavy snowfall last week has made the ground pretty saturated, according to Vrydaghs. With highly saturated soil on a firm winter ground, there is a chance for minor flooding as a storm system moves in this weekend.

“This winter is different than the past few we’ve had because we don’t have an El Nino or La Nina in place and that’s really what drives our forecast,” Vrydaghs said. “When we start to shift to positive and negative phases, we start to see these big swings in temperature and that’s really what we were predicting in October. As we head into January and February, I anticipate we will see some bigger cold snaps and a better chance for snowfall.”

Skaters lined-up to hit the ice at RiverScape Thursday had to be cautious of some coned-off sections where the rink’s ice was melting more than staff would like. FiveRivers park technician Andrew Tarter said the rink is completely safe to operate until temperatures reach about 65 degrees.

“We encourage everyone to layer up and get outdoors year-round, even in colder temps,” said Kristen Wicker, FiveRivers spokeswoman. “But it’s certainly a treat to explore the outdoors when the sun is shining – and especially when the temps are warmer this time of year. It’s an opportunity to get a dose of Vitamin D … Winter is also a great time to view highlights that might be hidden when the foliage is lush.”

Six Ohio parks offering guided hikes

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is coordinating New Year’s Day hikes around the state including Caesar Creek, Hueston Woods, Maumee Bay, Portage Lakes, Shawnee, and Wingfoot Lake state parks.

The naturalist-led winter hikes range from 1-3 miles and are perfect for both beginning and experienced hikers. Hikers are encouraged to dress in layers and wear sturdy footwear. The hikes include:

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• Caesar Creek State Park – Meet at the nature center at 1 p.m. for a 1-mile hike. Visitors are invited to stay for an additional 3-mile hike to the park’s swinging bridge and Horseshoe Falls. For more information, call (513) 897-3055.

• Hueston Woods State Park – Meet at the nature center at 11 a.m. for a hike that will showcase the flora and fauna of Hueston Woods. Participants will need a vehicle to drive to the trailhead. For more information, call (513) 523-6347.

• Maumee Bay State Park – Meet at the nature center at 10 a.m. for a 90-minute hike along the park’s boardwalk. After, warm up inside the nature center at the wildlife viewing windows. No pets please. For more information, call (419) 836-7758.

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• Portage Lakes State Park – Meet at 2 p.m. at the first parking lot on the right, as you enter the park. This 3-mile moderate hike will follow the Shoreline and Pheasant Run trails. For more information, call (330) 628-4720.

• Shawnee State Park – Meet in the lodge lobby at 1 p.m. for an easy 1-mile hike through the park’s oak-hickory woodland. After the hike, warm up by the lodge’s fireplace with hot chocolate and cookies. For more information, call (740) 858-6652.

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• Wingfoot Lake State Park – Meet at the marina parking lot at 11 a.m. for an easy 1-mile hike along the Wildlife trail. For more information, call (330) 628-4720.

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