Florida is supposed to be warm. After all, it’s, well, Florida. But temperatures in the Sunshine State have been shattering records and rivaling typical readings during the heart of summer. Miami even endured its earliest heat wave on record last week, when it hit at least 90 degrees on three consecutive days.
Meteorologists are calling the heat “ridiculous,” “brutal” and “a cruel joke.”
Miami’s temperature climbed to 95 on Friday, at a time of year when average highs are 83. To date, this April has been the city’s hottest on record coming after its second-warmest March. The heat goes back further, too; this has been Miami’s warmest start to the year in its 83-year history of bookkeeping, according to Brian McNoldy, Capital Weather Gang’s Miami-based tropical weather expert.
But Miami is not alone. Records have been falling faster than cold-stunned iguanas across the Florida Peninsula. Orlando broke a nearly century-old record high on Monday, the mercury soaring to a brutal 97 degrees. Daytona Beach hit 94, while Melbourne peaked at 96. Heat indexes, a “feels like” product of temperature and humidity, spiked well into the triple digits.
Practically the entirety of Florida has endured its hottest mid-March to mid-April on record.
The heat milestones keep mounting.
Miami recorded its seventh day so far this year in the 90s on Tuesday. In an average year, Miami would have only hit 90 once by this point in the year; the frequency of 90 degree days to date also claimed a record, McNoldy said in an email.
Miami’s highs of 94 and 95 degrees on April 9 and 10 respectively are even more impressive, considering that some years — like 2018 — pass without the city nicking 95 degrees even through the summer months, McNoldy said. It’s the earliest in the year that Miami has hit 95 degrees on record.
“This past week in #Miami has been more like 4th of July than Easter temps!,” tweeted Eric Blake, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center.
It’s not just the afternoon highs that have been excessive; sultry conditions have also lingered overnight. Monday’s low temperature didn’t drop below 80 degrees, establishing a record high minimum temperature for the date and for the month, as well as tying the record for the warmest overnight low any time between November and April, according to McNoldy.
“Miami is breaking daily, monthly and year-to-date heat-related records left and right. … They include high, warm low, and average temperatures,” McNoldy said.
McNoldy tweeted the low of 80 Wednesday marked the fourth straight day with a low at or above 78, the earliest streak so long on record.
Forecasts calls for the heat to continue. The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s three-month temperature outlook for above-average odds of anomalously warm temperatures over most of the Lower 48 states, including Florida.
And with exceptionally warm Gulf of Mexico water temperatures heating the nearby marine air, it stands to reason that this unusually hot weather could be encouraged to stick around through late summer.
“It looks like even in June, July and August there’s a pretty good chance of it still,” said Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami.
A major player in the warm temperatures has been the position of dominant weather systems that influence South Florida’s temperatures.
“The thing that’s really been the driving source of this is that we’ve had a persistent pretty strong area of high pressure,” Caracozza said. “It’s been rebuilding or over the Atlantic and extending westward toward us.”
That’s been slowing down, or even blocking, approaching cold fronts from the northwest, allowing the stubborn warmth to lethargically languish over Florida. Ahead of the fronts, it’s common for winds to take on a southwesterly component — which in Miami marks a warm, dry wind.
“With lower humidity, the temperature can increase a little bit more,” Caracozza said. Without many cold fronts, there are few opportunities for cooling cloud cover or precipitation.
That dry weather has spelled big issues for the Everglades, where many areas recorded their driest march on record. The Miami Herald reported that the state averaged just 0.24 inches of rain during the month, according to the South Florida Water Management District.
“We’re typically in the heart of our dry season here [this time of year], and soon we’ll transition to rainy season in the middle of May,” Caracozza said.
Meanwhile, warmer Gulf of Mexico water temperatures have likely been adding a bit of moisture to the ambient surrounding air, allowing the atmosphere to more efficiently retain heat at night. That’s contributed to the unusually warm overnight low temperatures.
“As of [Tuesday], we have had 55 days so far this year with a 70 degree plus low; the old record was 51, and the average [year to date] is 23,” McNoldy said.
Much of the warming bears the fingerprint of a changing climate; like nearly all major cities in the Lower 48, Miami has been warming — but, in Miami’s case, while also dealing with the growing dangers of climate-driven sea level rise.
“It has been quite something,” McNoldy said.
Miami could cool into the mid-80s Friday with chances for a few isolated showers, but temperatures will once again rebound to near 90 for the weekend.
The Washington Post’s Jason Samenow contributed to this article.