Most folks would view this astonishing run of record warmth as an early Christmas present from nature. Steve Cannon isn't one of them.

He is the guest services manager at the Jack Frost-Big Boulder ski resort, where only one of 35 trails is open this weekend and where it's been too warm to even make snow on many nights.

"I've been here 13 years, and this is the craziest start to a ski season," he said Friday.

Naturally, Poconos ski operators would prefer people in the Philadelphia region to be thinking snow.

This weekend, those people are more likely to be thinking beach.

Several records might be toast by Monday morning here and elsewhere. The entire East is basking in a remarkable warmth wrought by a weather pattern expected to persist until at least Christmas.

The Nov. 1 through Dec. 10 period was the second-warmest such period in Philadelphia in records dating to 1874. Philadelphia has never waited beyond Dec. 11 for an official 32-degree temperature.

On Sunday, forecasters say, temperatures will make a run at 70, which would be utterly normal. For New Orleans.

Around here, however, that would be a record, beating the 65 of 1971, and the region is in for a spell of atmospheric surrealism. It is likely to feature springlike crowds along the Schuylkill banks, football in weather more appropriate for early-season baseball, birds continuing to snub backyard feeders, and thousands of red-suited Santas dashing through the sweat.

The Philadelphia leg of the Running of the Santas, a national fund-raising event, is scheduled for Saturday, when the high is forecast to flirt with the record of 65, set in 1931.

Coincidentally, when the New Orleans Santas ran last Saturday, the official high there was 66, and, yes, those Kris Kringles did sweat, said event spokesman Matt Willard.

While the warmth might add to the discomfort of the red-suited as they run and amble through the streets of Old City, Willard said he hoped the otherwise inviting conditions would swell their ranks from last year's 8,000 to 10,000.

Conditions at the Shore, where the Cape May Bird Observatory is holding bird-walk programs Saturday, should be splendid. But visitors might not see quite as many different birds as they usually would this time of year, said Mike Crewe, the observatory's program director.

The warmth is having some effect on winter migrations, and that, he said, also helps explain why backyard bird feeders have been so quiet.

Species such as white-throated sparrows are doing fine in the boreal forests of Canada and the Adirondacks. "They're just not shipping out," he said. As for the locals, because of the weather, "the birds are out there enjoying natural foods in the wider country, and there's no need to come closer."

For those hoping for a white Christmas or at least a taste of winter, don't look at the long-term outlooks. The government's two-week forecast sees above-normal temperatures through Dec. 25.

For the rest of the winter, the simmering El Niño, in which sea surface temperatures over vast expanses of the tropical Pacific are anomalously warm and heating the overlying atmosphere, remains a wild card. Weather moves west to east, and the warming is likely to perturb storm-bearing upper-air winds perhaps into March.

In the East, the pattern has been dominated by upper-air winds from the South that continue to draw warm air northward, according to the Climate Prediction Center. Temperatures in Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston all have been several degrees above normal this month.

As to the role of climate change, the world has become slightly warmer - but not that much warmer. Temperatures in the 21st century have been just over 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, according to the official government database. Megawarming around here has been counterbalanced by deep chill elsewhere, including parts of Alaska.

The ongoing local warmth might represent a holiday bonanza in energy savings and opportunities for postseason yard work, for better or worse.

But for Cannon and his Poconos colleagues, this December without a winter is "not so good for us, unfortunately."