PEORIA — Well, Peoria, you didn't get your white Christmas, but you did get the warmest Christmas Day on record.
The National Weather Service in Lincoln reported the mercury topped out at 63 degrees Wednesday, beating out an 83-year-old record. The old mark, set in 1936, was 62.
And there's a good chance that we'll have another record high on Thursday as Ben Deubelbeiss, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the warm weather pattern will continue through Thursday night.
Thursday's record high of 59, set in 1942, is expected to be beaten as the temperature is forecast to reach 62 degrees.
People were out and about taking advantage of the weather. Forest Park Nature Center had several people hiking the trails, a few clad in shorts and T-shirts. Facebook was littered with pictures and videos of kids showing off their new remote-controlled cars, drones or even bikes. Along Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights, walkers were ever-present as Dec. 25 resembled May 25.
In Pekin, a man wearing a Santa Claus hat drove through town in a white convertible with the top down. In Mineral Springs Park, a young boy fished off a pier in the lagoon, walkers circled the lagoon, folks sat on benches staring at their phones, parents watched their children in a playground, and dog owners watched their dogs in a dog park. A few blocks away at the city's riverfront, a couple hopped off their motorcycle and took a selfie with the Illinois River and underside of the John T. McNaughton Bridge in the background.
A weak cold front moves in briefly on Thursday night, dropping temperatures down into the low 40s, but they are expected to rebound by the weekend.
The warm weather will continue over the weekend, but expect locally heavy rain, Deubelbeiss said, with up to an inch of rain forecast for parts of central Illinois.
Reality, sadly, returns to the Peoria area on Monday. Deubelbeiss said temperatures will be in the low- to mid-30s by Monday.
Does this mean we'll have an easy winter? Deubelbeiss said it's unknown, as the outlook calls for an equal chance of higher than normal and lower than normal temperatures. So for now, enjoy the Christmas miracle and get outside.
And that's what Pekin resident Gus Kormah did, having played nine holes of golf at Sunset Hills Golf Club.
He says he's not one of the "crazies" who plays off-season golf if there's no snow. Rather, he said, he prefers an unseasonably warm day like Wednesday.
"I'd say it felt more like spring than fall out there," he said. "Fall is right after summer, so it doesn't feel that warm when you have a 60-degree day. When it's 60 degrees in spring, it feels warm."