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Winter break: Record warm Sunday?

After an extraordinary preseason, winter will start out feeling a lot like spring.

Granted, the government's official observer in National Park has used a micrometer to measure the last two, but with four snowfalls already, this month has secured a place among the elite Decembers.

Now for something completely different, it will begin to feel a lot like springtime when the astronomical winter begins with the solstice on Saturday.

The forecast high for Saturday is 59, the normal for April 1. Sunday's predicted high, 65, normal for an April 17, would set a record for the date.

The record for a Dec. 22 is 64 and happens to be one of the easier daily standards to break during the winter. Consider that the record for Dec. 30 is 72, and 73, for a Jan. 6.

Nevertheless, 65 would represent quite a dramatic change from what the region has experienced since the snow ambush of Dec. 8.

Temperatures have averaged almost 7 degrees below normal in that period, and with an official 11.2 inches measured at Philadelphia International Airport (actually National Park), this has become the ninth-snowiest December in 130 years of recordkeeping.

More-seasonable temperatures are due to return in time for Christmas, but snow on Dec. 25 is in the forecast or the Christmas cards.

In one of the splendid and underrated Irving Berlin songs in the movie White Christmas, "Snow," the question is asked, "What is Christmas with no snow?"

The answer is "normal." Philadelphia's peak snow season usually doesn't show up until late January into February.

In the meantime, we are about to join winter on a holiday break. Have a great Christmas, and what remains of 2013.