Winter brings warm, sunny days to North Texas

Santa's helpers in North Texas were zipping around in shorts and Hawaiian shirts Monday as the high temperature of 79 set a record for the day.

But after this evening, when winter officially begins at 5:38 p.m., they may switch to pants and sweatshirts.

And the big fellow himself will need to bundle up when he makes his deliveries Friday night and early Saturday because the low that night could be in the upper 20s, said Claire McCaskill, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

"Santa better be careful," McCaskill said. "It's going to be cold."

But it won't be anything like last year's rare white Christmas. There's only a 30 percent chance of rain Friday. "But it won't be freezing precipitation," McCaskill said.

On Monday, the last full day of autumn, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport recorded a balmy high of 79 at 3:35 p.m., easing past the previous record of 77 set in 1978. The overnight low was 49 degrees.

"The reason it got so high is we're having a La Niña this year," McCaskill said. "In La Niña, we have cooler surface waters in the Pacific Ocean. It ends up affecting the weather here by making it warmer and drier during the winter. That's why we haven't had a lot rain, also."

Temperatures are expected to rise into the mid-70s again today with a nighttime low in the upper 40s. A cold front is expected to arrive early Friday, sending the mercury into the lower 50s.

"Holiday travelers won't have to worry about icy winter weather this weekend," McCaskill said, adding that people returning home from holiday trips Sunday can expect dry roads and a low in the upper 20s to lower 30s, warming in the afternoon to the lower 50s.

Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367