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Summers in Florida show trend toward record temperatures

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Note for readers: The News-Press and Naples Daily News are providing special weather coverage in Southwest Florida this week as a new hurricane season soon begins there (June 1).

Daily high temperatures are already in the triple digits and this summer is expected to be a real blast in the Sunshine State.

Various weather forecasting agencies are predicting warmer-than-average weather for much of the summer. The hot weather will bring everything from dangerous outdoor working conditions to larger, more intense tropical storms and hurricanes.

“Highs are expected to be 94 to 95 degrees on the 28th, and our heat index will be around 104 degrees,” said Christianne Pearce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Ruskin. “So it's going to be very hot.”

And almost all media and experts are predicting a hot summer, especially for Florida.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting above-average temperatures for southwest Florida from now through the end of October.

According to Accuweather, temperatures across much of the United States will be several degrees above average throughout the summer.

And the impacts will go beyond higher electricity bills due to increased use of air conditioning, as conditions will be downright dangerous at times.

The HeatRisk reality for this year

NOAA's HeatRisk scale ranges from 0 for mild conditions to 4 for exceptionally dangerous times.

For southwest Florida, a predominantly red zone or a HeatRisk value of 3 is forecast today.

“A HeatRisk score of 3 represents a major risk of heat-related effects for all persons without adequate hydration and cooling,” the scale states. “When both nighttime low temperatures and daytime high temperatures for that date at a given location are exceptionally warm (i.e., in the top 5% of the historical daily temperature distribution) for at least a 48-hour period and reach a level that poses an increased risk of heat complications, the highest HeatRisk score of 4 is reached.”

More: Will Sargassum wreak havoc on SWFL beaches this summer?

While average temperatures at this time in May are around 30 degrees Celsius, temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius are likely this week as the high pressure area continues to ensure clear and sunny weather.

“Temperatures could reach the upper 90s, but they'll be in the mid-90s,” Pearce said. “And we have no chance of rain for the next seven days, and that's what we've announced, so people stay safe, stay hydrated and take breaks in the shade.”

Average temperatures rise to around 90 degrees on June 1st.

The record for May 28th in Fort Myers is 98 degrees and was set in 1953.

“It should stay just under record,” Pearce said of this week's weather. “May is usually warm and one of our drier months. June will get really rainy, but these temperatures are above average.”

The summer heat remains in Florida and leads to storms

It has been warm in recent weeks and the short-term forecast predicts maximum temperatures of around 35 degrees.

In other words, the warm weather is not going away anytime soon.

According to records from the National Weather Service (NWS), the average high temperature for this half of May is 30 degrees.

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Higher air temperatures also lead to higher water temperatures, which can promote the development of tropical storms and hurricanes.

“Warmer waters in the Atlantic generally mean a more active hurricane season, as the ocean's warmth provides the fuel hurricanes need to form and intensify,” said Gregory Foltz, a NOAA oceanographer. “With a warmer ocean, hurricanes that do form are also more likely to become stronger, which typically leads to more major hurricanes. A warmer ocean also increases the likelihood that a hurricane will experience rapid intensification, defined as an increase in maximum wind speed of at least 30 knots in 24 hours.”

NOAA's May 16 30-day forecast shows above-average chances of above-average temperatures for all of Florida in June, July and August.

The same graph also shows above-average heat in September, with an even higher probability of above-average temperatures at the end of the rainy season.

The hurricane season runs from June 1 to the end of November, but the rainy season usually lasts from mid-May to mid-October.

This hurricane season is expected to be very intense: experts at Colorado State University predict 23 named storms, eleven of which will reach hurricane severity (and five of which will be Category 3 or higher storms).

This comes from their forecast of April 4. The CSU will publish and update it on June 11.

Anna Harden

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