COLUMBIA — The recent warm weather has increased sales of Christmas trees at the Timber View Tree Farm in Hartsburg, owner Daryll Raitt said.
"When we have warm weather, people come out to ride our tractor trailer and pick out a tree," Raitt said. Sales at his business are up about 10 percent from last year.
Other businesses in the area also seemed to benefit from the warm weather. With a record daily high of 75 degrees set Monday afternoon, the sidewalks in downtown Columbia were crowded with smoothie-slurping pedestrians wearing shorts and flip-flops.
Outside Sparky's Homemade Ice Cream, Tony Hansel and Jordon Hughes ate chocolate-orange ice cream, the flavor of the day.
"It's gotta be the first time I've done this in December," Hughes said.
Sparky's employee Tamara Coker said the heat wave has spurred business for the shop, which normally slows down this time of year. "We've actually run out of some of the more popular flavors," she said.
Julie Barnett spent Monday morning riding her bicycle five miles into Columbia with her husband. At the intersection of Locust Street and Ninth Street, her husband rode through a yellow light that turned red by the time she reached it.
Wearing bicycle shorts and a pink T-shirt, she said she was delighted by the weather. "I think it's a nice reprieve from December," Barnett said. "Actually, we haven't had any cold weather, but it's lovely."
The previous record high of 72 degrees was set in 1998, according to wunderground.com. The average high for the day is 45 degrees.
Columbia's high was above those of Los Angeles, 68 degrees, San Jose, 63 degrees, and Albuquerque, 67 degrees.
Tony Lupo, a professor of atmospheric science at the MU School of Natural Resources, didn't share Barnett's enthusiasm. The warm weather could worsen the drought, he said.
"It's been very warm and dry and windy, and that does not help," Lupo said. "It just evaporates moisture. It's definitely not a good thing."
Many weather organizations predict that the warm weather will stick around. The Weather Channel forecasts highs in the 50s and 60s for Columbia until Dec. 9.
Raitt said he is not bothered by the idea of a warm holiday season.
"Personally, I don't think it would make much of a difference," he said, laughing. "It'd be nice to get a little snow sometime, but we'll be alright either way."