Winter weather: Rest of December won’t be so cold

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The low hit minus 20 in Minneapolis -- so cold that the city's annual winter festival was closed for the day. But expected Christmas Day 2016 highs will be warmer: 60 in Atlanta, 47 in New York, 62 in Dallas, 64 in Los Angeles

(CNN) — America, you can take off that extra scarf soon.

After shivering through a brutally cold December, two-thirds of the United States will feel temperatures rise above normal this week.

For people in many states, the warming can’t come soon enough. Monday was still chilly, with almost everyone east of the Mississippi 10 to 20 degrees below their normal high temperature for the afternoon.

Oklahoma City was expected to see a high temperature of 15 on Monday — 9 degrees colder than Anchorage, Alaska’s forecast high of 24.

But that’s nothing compared to Sunday, when it was so cold people even noticed in places where bundling up is a winter way of life.

In Chicago, fans and players alike endured the sixth-coldest NFL game ever, with the kickoff temp reaching only 11 degrees. It was minus 4 with windchill taken into account. (For context, the coldest NFL game ever was the December 31, 1967, Packers-Cowboys playoff contest in Green Bay, Wisconsin, when it was minus 13 degrees.)

In North Dakota on Sunday, the low temperature was minus 37 in Aberdeen and minus 31 in Bismarck. Charlyne Kemmesat, manager of Boneshaker Coffee Company in Bismarck, said it was so cold her hot beverage business actually slowed down.

“I see people less aggressive to be out,” she said.

The low hit minus 20 in Minneapolis — so cold that Holidazzle, the city’s annual winter festival, was closed for the day. That only happens every few years, said Leah Wong, vice president of events and marketing for the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “Minnesotans,” she said, “are hardy people.”

In Seattle, they’re still thawing out from a record low temperature of 24 on Saturday.

The Pacific Northwest got socked with unusually cold weather in December, with Portland experiencing an early snowfall, and it may not be over. The National Weather Service says an approaching low-pressure system will produce another round of rain and snow this week.

The good news: Warmer air is on the way. By Wednesday, the day when winter officially starts at 5:44 a.m. ET, two-thirds of the United States will be basking in warmer temperatures.

This trend will continue right through Christmas Day, with many places expected to be 30 to 40 degrees warmer than Sunday.

The National Weather Service predicts these Christmas Day highs: 60 in Atlanta, 47 in New York City, 50 in Washington, DC, 62 in Dallas and 64 in Los Angeles. Miami will suffer through 79 degrees.

But the Plains states may end up with snow and severe storms for Christmas. Minneapolis will deal with a high temperature of 18 degrees, Bismarck 14. The snow-rain line will be further north, meaning places that were in a deep freeze this past weekend, like Chicago, might see rain instead of snow.

In case you’re wondering, yes, it has been a lot colder than a year ago. December 2015 was the warmest December on record for the Lower 48.

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