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Warm East Coast*

Warm weather chills holiday spirit

November 29, 2001 Posted: 10:09 AM EST (1509 GMT)

Victoria McCook takes advantage of unusually warm weather as she walks her dog in Atlanta on Wednesday.

(AP) -- As children in T-shirts ran and played on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, the state Christmas tree seemed oddly out of place.

"I'm ready for the cold," said Melissa Patterson, who stood outside the Statehouse under warm, sunny skies. "I tried to put up the Christmas tree this weekend and it was hard to get in the spirit. I had to cut the air conditioning on to put up the tree."

The East Coast has enjoyed one of the warmest Novembers in recent memory, with temperatures routinely exceeding their normal highs from Georgia to normally chilly New England.

Forecasters credit a giant low-pressure system in the Atlantic near Greenland and a high-pressure system in the eastern Atlantic.

"This may be one of the milder temperatures on record for November," said Jim Noel, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Wednesday was no exception. The temperature in Atlanta got up to 74 degrees, falling only one degree short of the city's 11-year-old record for the date. The normal high is about 60.

Melting snow

Some of the most unseasonable weather has been found far to the north. Vermont's average temperature this month has been 51 degrees -- five degrees above normal for November. Burlington, Vermont, got up to 67 degrees on Sunday, eclipsing the normal temperature for the date by 26 degrees. On November 16, the temperature in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, hit a record-setting 72 degrees.

Balmy weather in Maine forced the Sugarloaf USA ski resort to shut down its trails this week. The existing snow pack melted and it has been too warm for the resort to make snow.

At the Loon Mountain ski area in Lincoln, New Hampshire, temperatures Wednesday were in the high 30s to low 40s, spokeswoman Stacy Lopes said.

"It's definitely been warm up here and we haven't been able to make snow for the past few days," she said.

Jimbo Livaditis, who sells Christmas trees in Atlanta, Georgia, blames the warm weather -- and an early Thanksgiving -- for slow sales. He said mild temperatures are making it hard for people to get into the holiday mood.

Mild temperatures have also been a blow to the firewood industry, which normally booms during this time of year.

Dave Mason, the owner of Atlanta Tree, said he's usually sold out of firewood by this time of the year. But this year, sales have been very slow.

Welcoming warmth

But in Concord, New Hampshire, the lack of wintry weather hasn't hurt holiday sales, said Jeff Bart, co-owner of Granite State Candy Shoppe.

In fact, he's perfectly happy having the snow stay away for a while.

"If we have snow within that extremely critical period in the two weeks before Christmas, if there's a big storm, we lose a lot, and you don't make it up," he said. "I don't want to see a snowflake until midnight Christmas Eve."

For many people along the East Coast, however, it just doesn't feel like Christmas without cold weather and snow.

Glenn Plummer, who lives in Columbia, South Carolina, said it was too warm for this time of year.

"It's still Christmas, but I like to have it a little cooler -- sweater weather," the Chicago native said.

Wes Liberher, a bicycle messenger in Philadelphia, agreed.

"Once Christmas comes around it's got to be cold," Liberher said. "You have to have snow."

Still, not everyone is complaining about the warmth.

"It could be that the world is changing, evolving," said Howard King, walking in front of the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore. "Or it could be God's way of saying, 'Enjoy it while you can."'

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