Holiday visitors looking to trade the wild mix of weather that is slamming parts of the United States for the South Florida sun and surf might just get a picture-perfect Christmas.
The National Weather Service in Miami is forecasting a dry start to the week and cooler temperatures in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast just in time for Santa’s arrival. A cold front could bring windy weather Tuesday, but the threat was nothing compared to the winter conditions facing other parts of the country.
Even the threat of rip currents is expected to diminish, making it safer to splash about into ocean waters from Fort Pierce to Boca Raton.
“It is better than snow,” said Evelyn Rivera, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Miami office.
Hundreds of thousands of people across the north would echo that. On Sunday, snow and ice knocked out power to 400,000 homes and businesses from Michigan to northern New England, and also left more than 400,000 people without electricity in eastern Canada. It could be days before the lights are back on everywhere.
By Sunday afternoon, more than 500 flights had been canceled and about 3,800 delayed, according to FlightAware.com, a airline tracking website.
Few, if any, of Sunday’s cancellations were for flights to either Palm Beach International Airport or Fort Lauderdale International Airport, although several flights into and out of cold-belt cities such as Toronto and Detroit and to airline hubs such as Atlanta were delayed.
More delays and cancellations are possible today as northern airports recover from the weekend weather. Travelers are urged to check with their airlines and with the airports before arriving for their flights.
While those places were shivering, South Florida experienced unseasonably warm temperatures during the weekend. A mass of hot, muggy air over the South led many mid-Atlantic states to set high-temperatures records Sunday for the second consecutive day. West Palm Beach saw a daytime high of 83 degrees and Stuart one of 84.
While temperatures in many northern cities were expected to dip back into the 30s by Monday night and Tuesday, Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast were forecast to stay warm, although temperatures locally should ease Tuesday as a cold front moves through the area, Rivera said.
High temperatures will remain in the low 80s today and Tuesday but are expected to fall to the mid 70s on Christmas Day as a result of the cold front, Rivera said.
Winds would pick up Tuesday night out of the north and northeast as the cold front approaches, the weather service said, and wind gusts could top 20 mph near West Palm Beach. But Rivera said the breezy conditions were expected to diminish Wednesday.
Whether area residents will be able to eat Christmas dinner on their patios is unclear. There is a 30 percent chance of rain as the cold front moves across Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, Rivera said.
But the greatest rain threat comes later in the week. There is 40 percent chance of rain Thursday and Friday as another weather system moves across the region, Rivera said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.