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. Florida education news: Budgets, discipline, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    BUDGETING: Florida school district officials keep a close eye on their spending plans as they await word on the Legislature's budget. Gov. Rick Scott

  2. Forecast: Return of summertime pattern means afternoon storms on tap for Tampa Bay

    Weather

    As if Memorial Day wasn't enough of a signal that summer truly is upon us, this week's forecast across the Tampa Bay area will be a stark reminder.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  4. Manuel Noriega, Panamanian strongman toppled in U.S. invasion, dies at 83

    Obituaries

    Gen. Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian strongman and onetime American ally who was toppled from power in a 1989 U.S. invasion and who spent more than two decades imprisoned on drug dealing and conspiracy convictions, died late Monday. He was most likely 83.

    Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega waves to newsmen after a state council meeting, at the presidential palace in Panama City, where they announced the new president of the republic in 1989. Panama's ex-dictator Noriega died Monday, May 29, 2017, in a hospital in Panama City. He was 83. [Associated Press]
  5. Austin Mahone talks Pitbull, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, his pop evolution and more

    Blogs

    Austin Mahone has vivid memories from his childhood visits to see his grandparents in Tampa Bay.