At 1 p.m. Monday the official thermometer at Philadelphia International Airport hit 70, and that beat the former highest reading for a Dec. 14 of 69, set way back in 1881.

Yes, it is unusual to see a 70-degree reading in mid-December, let alone on two consecutive days, yet these things have happened.

In 1966, the Philadelphia temperature hit the 70s on Dec. 9 and 10, and two weeks later the region had one of its biggest Christmas Eve snowstorms.

It also is unusual to have three consecutive days of record-breaking temperatures, although that, too, has happened several times.

Actually records were broken on four consecutive days on at least four occasions in the period of record, which dates to 1874, including Jan. 4, 5, 6, and 7 in 1925.

But, yes, we have seen some incongruous sights out there for a mid-December, and we wouldn't want to be in the hot-chocolate business.

Basically, the nation has been locked in a pattern of lower pressure over the West, and ridging or higher pressure in the East that favors warmth, said Kenneth James, meteorologist at the government's Weather Prediction Center, outside Washington.

The upper-air jet stream has been diving into the West Coast and then scooting to Canada, keeping the East on the warm side of the pattern.

He expects at least a brief break  toward the end of the week, but it's looking warm otherwise through Christmas.

One glimmer of semi-hope for winter fans: James says the snowpack is building robustly to the north, and that would favor colder air masses down this way – at least eventually.