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How Hot Is It? Sweltering Heat Sets Records In Tampa Bay

Sweltering heat gripped much of Florida on Monday.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

It’s the middle of August in Florida, which means we should be accustomed to the sweltering, suffocating heat we’ve been sweating through across the Tampa Bay area – especially since the end of last week.

But if you been thinking these oppressive conditions feel just a bit worse than normal, you’re right.

It turns out that Sunday’s heat levels broke records in some parts of the region, and this trend will continue at least for the next couple of days.

“We have a ridge of high pressure that extends farther east than normal, spanning the entire southern tier of the United States,” said Jeff Huffman, a meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. “I don’t think the pattern will change suddenly, but I do believe the ridge will weaken enough to allow showers and thunderstorms to become more numerous across the state by midweek. And they should develop sooner in the day, which always helps.”

The low temperatures in Tampa on Friday, Saturday and Sunday didn't drop below 82 degrees, the warmest minimum temperatures recorded for those days.  forecasters said. Similarly, Lakeland’s low of 79 was two degrees warmer than the 77 set in 2018 and 2017.

On Monday, the heat index soared to at least 104 degrees in Tampa and 108 in Sarasota, with more practically unbearable levels approaching 110 in the Panhandle, Melbourne, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville. The heat index will range anywhere from 102-107 throughout the region.

Highs on Monday and Tuesday are expected to reach the low 90s and will feel even hotter thanks to some high dew points creating those very humid conditions, and winds out of the west off the Gulf of Mexico.

“This data isn’t available in every city, but there have been some high dew point records broken recently in Gainesville and Jacksonville,” Huffman said. “That tells me the bigger factor with this heat wave has been the humidity.”

Another factor, according to Huffman, is the wetter-than-normal summer we’ve had that also has likely contributed to higher than normal humidity values in and around the Tampa Bay area.

That moist air also will produce a chance for scattered showers and potentially strong thunderstorms starting along the coast and moving inland during the late morning and afternoon – a pattern that should last for the next few days, forecasters said.

Lows will continue to run above normal on Monday, forecasters said, only dipping to around 80 or above near the coast and the upper 70s inland.

Forecasters warn that anyone who will be outdoors should drink plenty of water and find shade if possible.

This heat isn’t limited to Florida. Feels-like temperatures of 115 will spread across the South and Midwest, and parts of 13 states – including Florida – will be under heat advisories, forecasters said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.