Severe Holiday Storms Leave 14 Dead

CNN — Rain pounded parts of Alabama Christmas Day. The National Weather Service says a tornado hit the Birmingham area, doing significant damage. The state’s governor declared a state of emergency because of widespread flooding.  Officials say flooding has damaged more than 100 homes there.

Georgia saw heavy flooding as well. This, as parts of Mississippi were put on a flash flood watch, just days after tornados ripped through several Southern states. At least 14 people were killed in the tornados, and more heavy rain is expected.

Things are a lot milder in the North.

“It’s nice, but it’s not like Christmas,” said one New Yorker.

Unusually warm temperatures are blanketing parts of the U.S. Major metropolitan areas are seeing record temperatures, like in New York’s Central Park, where people were wearing t-shirts and shorts on Christmas Day.

The average high temperature is 41 degrees. Friday morning it was 66 and rising.

“It’s really warm. There are waves, so I’m gonna surf, and I’m happy,” said another New Yorker.

“It’s fantastic,” said another. “Anytime you can get out in the water it’s always great, especially on Christmas. A little extra Christmas surprise.”

Meteorologists blame El Nino and a high pressure system over the East coast for the less than white Christmas. They expect the unseasonably warm temperatures to stick around through next week.

Meanwhile, parts of the West are a winter wonderland. People visiting the Sierra Nevada mountains don’t have to dream of a white Christmas anymore.

“We haven’t seen snow like this for a while, so we just had to come out here and enjoy ourselves,” said one reveler. “It’s family time.”