breaking news

Should OD rescues be limited? Questions rise as Narcan’s cost soars

First four months of 2017 hottest on record for Florida


The first four months of 2017 were the hottest in 122 years for Florida and much of the southeast, continuing a streak of sizzling temperatures that are forecast to run high through summer.

Florida’s average temperature January through April was 66.6 degrees, a hefty four 4 degrees above the 20th century normal level, according to a report from the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The state simmered from the Panhandle through Central Florida with temperatures that broke heat records dating to 1895, while South Florida’s more tepid temps left it in the top-10 warmest stretch for January through April.

“This is our 15th consecutive month of above-normal temperatures,” said Florida climatologist David Zierden. “January 2016 was the last month that had below-normal temperatures.”

Related: Wild fires rage as Florida waits start of rainy season

And that was an anomaly in a pattern of warmth. Before January 2016, there were 10 consecutive months of above-normal temperatures.

Zierden said the prolonged warm weather contributed to the 127 wildfires that burned statewide Monday, forced ranchers to buy hay because pasture lands are suffering from drought, and led to an explosion of whiteflies that are damaging some vegetable crops.

Lake Okeechobee was down to 11.43 feet above sea level Monday — the lowest it’s been since 2011.

“For over two years now, the state has consistently, and to a large degree, been warmer than normal,” Zierden said.

Download The Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

Florida wasn’t alone in setting a heat record this year. Fourteen states stretching from the southwest to the mid-Atlantic also reached their highest average temperatures for the period of January through April. Forty states were considered “much warmer” than average through April.

“The lack of rain was a big factor,” said William Schmitz, a service climatologist for the Southeast Regional Climate Center. “If it’s really wet and cloudy, it doesn’t get as warm.”

Related: Florida governor declares state of emergency over Florida wild fires

The four-month heat stretch follows the second-warmest year for the U.S. and Florida. While 2016 did not claim a first-place title, scientists called the breadth of the warmth “unparalleled” in the nation’s climate history.

Globally, 2016 was the third record-hot year in a row.

So far this year, 16 Florida cities are running record hot, including Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

Meteorologists had trouble pointing to a single weather pattern that may have steered this year’s heat.

While La Niña can lead to drier and warmer weather in the Southeast, it had mostly disappeared by late January and February.

Andrew Shashy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, said fewer strong cold fronts pushed through Florida as the jet stream stayed more to the north. The Bermuda High also likely worked to dissipate fronts, drying them out before they could bring much rain to the state.

“Frontal boundaries may have moved in for a brief time, but then going into the Northeast, and we’re back into that warm pattern again,” Shashy said.

The Climate Prediction Center’s forecast through July for Florida is for above-normal temperatures, and Zierden said he wouldn’t be surprised if 2017 was another record-warm year for the Sunshine State.

He was hesitant to pin it all on global warming.

“This consistent above-average temperature trend for the past two years makes you ask the question if it’s global warming,” Zierden said. “A two-year period is not enough to exclusively attribute it to climate change, but it is certainly enough to ask the question.”

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter .



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Weather

JUST IN: Waterspout warning off Palm Beach County this morning
JUST IN: Waterspout warning off Palm Beach County this morning

The National Weather Service has issued a special marine warning for the possibility of waterspouts off Palm Beach County. Meteorologists in Miami said a severe thunderstorm capable of producing waterspouts is located about 20 miles east of Riviera Beach and moving northeast at 17 mph. Thunderstorms can produce sudden waterspouts that can...
Forecast: Another day of thunderstorms in PB County
Forecast: Another day of thunderstorms in PB County

Scattered to numerous thunderstorms are expected again today in South Florida, according to the National Weather Service in Miami. In Palm Beach County, that means a mostly cloudy day with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Download The Post’s WeatherPlus app Forecasters are calling for highs in the upper 80s and...
Wednesday weather: High chance of rain, hot, muggy day
Wednesday weather: High chance of rain, hot, muggy day

Expect heat, humidity, and numerous showers and thunderstorms Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. » Check The Palm Beach Post radar map Wednesday’s high is supposed to reach near 90 degrees, and there is a 60 percent chance of rain mostly after 2 p.m. Skies will be mostly cloudy, with a light...
Don’t miss a celestial treat as moon kisses this planet
Don’t miss a celestial treat as moon kisses this planet

Look to the heavens before sunrise Thursday to see the moon and Venus in their closest rendezvous of the season. The brilliant Venus, which ranks as the third-brightest body in our night skies, will be just above and to the left of the waning crescent moon in the east. Related: Unique solar eclipse stamp does something no other...
Short-lived Don kaput, system behind it still being watched
Short-lived Don kaput, system behind it still being watched

Tropical Storm Don dissipated late Tuesday night into an open wave over the far southeastern Caribbean Sea. The National Hurricane Center issued its last advisory on Don at 11 p.m. Tuesday. The short-lived storm reared up Monday after a burst of convection discovered by an Air Force hurricane hunter. Hurricane center forecasters...
More Stories