People accustomed to shoveling snow in January instead were digging shorts out of storage and going outside to play as much of the country on Friday basked in unseasonably high temperatures.
``It think it’s great. It’s just like springtime,″ said West Virginia University graduate student Don Simmons, wearing sandals and shorts on the Morgantown campus. ``There’s a lot of belly buttons exposed on campus, a lot of tank tops and a lot of sandals.″
Mild air spread across much of the Plains and across the East into New England.
The result: Carwashes and golf courses were jammed, movers worked without jackets, restaurants moved tables outdoors, and smokers forced to take their habit outside their offices were in shirtsleeves.
The number of cities breaking high-temperature record stretched from Indiana to New York. Detroit at 62 and New York City at 57 each broke their respective records for the date by 1 degree.
Weather conditions contrasted with a year ago when brutal winter storms repeatedly pounded many areas and sent temperatures plummeting.
``It’s just our reprieve from last winter,″ said Phil Zinn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Still, some people expressed nostalgia for snow and frigid air, saying they most definitely were NOT basking in the warm temperatures.
``It’s not our favorite thing ... but its part of being in the business,″ said Herb Faulkenberry, director of sales and marketing for Canaan Valley Ski Resort in West Virginia’s Tucker County.
That sounded like a minority opinion, however.
Friday’s peak temperature hit a toasty 71 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, topping the hottest Jan. 13 on record _ 66 in 1972 _ and allowing musician John Walsh to set up his equipment along the Baltimore waterfront after December for the first time in 15 years.
``The first of November is usually about the latest I come down here,″ said Walsh, wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt and jeans. ``When it gets colder than about 55, the guitar can’t take it.″
``In January, I usually have to drag my way through snow,″ said Richard Peacock, a deliveryman for a printing company in Rochester, N.Y., where the mercury hit 65 degrees, 2 degrees shy of the record for the date set in 1972. ``This makes my life easier.
Joggers reappeared in parks and along sidewalks, many in T-shirts, some in shorts. Many office workers and shoppers carried heavy coats across their arms, even loosened their ties.
Taxi driver Charles Fustanio, parked in Rochester’s Cobbs Hill park, said his father, who lives in Florida, is always reminding him how warm it is there.
``He keeps razzing me about it,″ he said. ``Next time, I’ll have something to tell him.″