Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

It hasn't been this hot in Florida to start the year since 1895, report says

Florida is hot.

This may sound obvious, but it's never been more true. Well, at least for the past 122 years.

Florida recorded its hottest average temperatures for the first four months of the year since 1895, according to a climate report by the National Centers for Environmental Information.

NOAA

 

Another record was shattered Tuesday with a high of 96 degrees in Tampa, according to the National Weather Service.

And the scorching temperatures come amid a drought that has led to Florida's most active wildfire season since 2011.

In April alone, nearly 600 wildfires broke out and burned more than 32,500 acres across the state, the report states. Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on April 11.

RELATED: More than 100 wildfires scorch Florida, a sign of how dry we are

Pasco County has been beset by several fires, including the wildfire that scorched more than 2,275 acres in the Starkey Wilderness Preserve earlier this month, leaving a plume of smoke that could be seen across the bay area.

"It's kind of like an ugly cycle. Hot breeds dry and dry breeds hot," said 10Weather WTSP meteorologist Grant Gilmore. "We will get some rain this weekend, but it doesn't look like the cycle breaks in a big way any time soon."

Florida is only one of 14 states, stretching from the Southwest to the Mid-Atlantic, that experienced record-breaking temperatures in the first period of 2017, according to the report from NCEI, the federal agency that stores environmental data for the nation and world.

January through April 2017 also unveiled the second-warmest average temperatures for the United States overall, falling closely behind 2012.

Little rainfall and overly dry conditions haven't been particularly troubling for most of the country, with precipitation levels above normal for large swaths of the country.

Florida Forest Service

 

Not so in Florida. The central-southern portion of the state, as well as parts of southern Georgia, are among the driest areas in the United States.

Rainstorms left the Tampa Bay area alone this winter, so the area stayed dry, said meteorologist Andrew McKaughan of the National Weather Service. That, combined with near-constant high pressure and clear skies, has helped the heat build.

Plus, an easterly wind flow has kept the Gulf Coast sea breeze mostly offshore, he said.

"We tend to warm up pretty significantly because the sea breeze can't come in to moderate the heat," McKaughan said.

Those who find these temperatures unbearable can look forward to the summer, when afternoon showers and thunderstorms help break the oppressive heat.

Gilmore said that stormy pattern should return in June, when the average amount of rainfall jumps from May's 2.1 inches to 6.8 inches.

Until then, temperatures in the mid-90s are threatening to tie or break record highs, like Tuesday's record in Tampa.

"That's a huge spike and it indicates that we are moving in the direction of breaking into the rainy season — slowly," Gilmore said.

Until then, experts caution the public to drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, limit time outside, and especially be careful when it comes to open flames. There is a statewide burn ban in effect from the Georgia border all the way south to Collier and Palm Beach counties.

Until the rains bring the Tampa Bay area some relief, all it takes is a lit cigarette thrown from a car window to start a raging brush fire.

Contact Samantha Putterman at sputterman@tampabay.com. Follow her on Twitter @samputterman. Contact Claire McNeill at cmcneill@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8321.

It hasn't been this hot in Florida to start the year since 1895, report says 05/16/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 6:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

    Blogs

    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.