More muggy nights are in the forecast for South Florida, and record warm temperatures are possible, according to forecasters. (Credit: NWS-Miami)
Temperature records — some that had stood for more than 70 years — fell up and down the Florida peninsula Wednesday as summer weather grabbed hold and appeared to settle in for the long run.
The only question was whether the heat and humidity would soon be accompanied by a return to the wet season, a critical issue since most areas continue to struggle with significant rainfall deficits.
Tampa sizzled under a record-breaking high of 98 degrees, shattering the old record of 96 set in 1995. In Sarasota, the high of 97 busted a 74-year-old high temperature record of 95 set in 1943.
Naples also broke a 74-year-old high temperature record with 95, beating the 1943 record of 94, and Fort Myers checked in with 96, 2 degrees hotter than the 2003 record of 94.
Florida’s East Coast, meanwhile, registered record warm minimum temperatures. Wednesday’s low in Miami was 80, which tied a record set just last year. The low in Melbourne was 78, busting the old record of 75 last set in 1980, while Vero Beach tied a record low with 75.
A few spots in inland Collier County reached the upper 90s, but most East Coast locations, including South Florida metro areas, were held to the mid- to upper-80s with brisk easterly winds off the Atlantic. West Palm Beach reported a gust of 29 mph, and gusts as high as 37 mph were measured in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The area of D3 Extreme Drought expanded to the East Coast this week, encompassing southern and central portions of Brevard County, according to an analysis released by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday. Extreme Drought also expanded west, moving into almost all of Polk County and edging north toward Orlando.
Most of the rest of the Florida peninsula was dealing with D2 Severe Drought, but Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties remained drought-free. Gulf Coast areas in the panhandle were also drought-free.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released its long-range forecasts for May and for June, July and August on Thursday, showing very high probabilities of above average temperatures along the entire East Coast, from Florida to Maine, and west long the Gulf Coast into South Texas.
Above normal summer temperatures are forecast for most of the U.S., in fact, from the Great Lakes into the Southern Plains and Rocky Mountain States and west into California, Oregon and Washington.
No below average temperatures are forecast anywhere in the country this summer, although forecasters hedged their bets on the northern Central Plains, saying there are equal chances for above normal, below normal or normal temperatures.
FLORIDA RAINY SEASON: The National Weather Service is still anticipating a pattern change to wet season conditions next week. Forecasters in Miami said Thursday:
“The long-term period will start with a continued brisk east/southeast flow regime across the region, as hints of a more typically established wet season pattern become more apparent.
“Increasing low-level moisture and diurnal heating will lead to isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms through the period. Daytime activity will likely be focused across the interior and Gulf Coast, with nighttime activity more focused across the East Coast and Atlantic waters.”