New York City sees record warmth on Christmas Eve

 Pedestrians walk down Central Park South during an unseasonably warm day in New York.
Pedestrians walk down Central Park South during an unseasonably warm day in New York.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - New Yorkers doing some last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve left their winter coats at home on Thursday as temperatures soared to record highs.

The mercury hit 21 deg C in the morning, prompting some people in the Big Apple to head out in T-shirts, even though skies were overcast.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures could soar to 23 deg C in the city's iconic Central Park later in the day - that would be a first for the date since weather record keeping began in 1871.

The previous record for Dec 24 - 17 deg C - dates back to 1996.

Autumn and winter have been very mild on the US East Coast so far this season, much to the dismay of stores selling coats, scarves and gloves.

Thursday's record is one of several set in the past two months, with 18 deg C recorded in Central Park on Dec 13.

The monthly average temperature for Dec is 3 deg C in New York.

In contrast, last winter was especially cold and snowy in the largest US city.