You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

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

BREAKING: ‘Feels-like’ temperature hits 103 in Boca Raton
BREAKING: ‘Feels-like’ temperature hits 103 in Boca Raton

Meteorologists are warning residents to stay hydrated and wear loose-fitted clothing through at least Monday as the heat index topped 100 in parts of Palm Beach County on Saturday. “It’s going to be really hot all weekend long,” said Andrew Hagen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami. STORM 2017: Check out The...
Protected shark washes up on beach dead with hook in mouth
Protected shark washes up on beach dead with hook in mouth

A more-than-400-pound tiger shark washed up dead this month north of the Juno Beach Pier with a large hook in its jaw and no outward signs of injury. The sight of the impressive fish lolling in the surf break with curious dogs sniffing at its corpse reignited a debate on fishing for shark from the beach, and what happens when the toothy torpedoes...
Memorial Day weekend forecast: Barbecue or bust?
Memorial Day weekend forecast: Barbecue or bust?

South Florida’s Memorial Day weekend will be soaked in sunshine, but with the clear skies also comes heat. Temperatures today through Monday will reach highs near 90 degrees with balmy dew points in the mid- to upper 70s. That means the heat index, or “feels like” temperatures, will close in on 100. Overnight lows should only dip...
JUST IN: Pre-order the new heat-activated solar eclipse stamp
JUST IN: Pre-order the new heat-activated solar eclipse stamp

The Total Solar Eclipse Forever stamp is the first from the USPS to use thermochromic ink, which is sensitive to heat.
Watch: Animals on Florida trail cameras do the funniest things
Watch: Animals on Florida trail cameras do the funniest things

What do animals do when no one is looking? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission found out when they placed some trail cameras in the wild.
More Stories