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Could Tampa reach 100 degrees for the first time ever? Another record heat day begs the question

The sun burns through the sky Thursday morning over Clearwater, a day in which Tampa Bay would see another heat record shattered. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

The sun burns through the sky Thursday morning over Clearwater, a day in which Tampa Bay would see another heat record shattered. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

TAMPA — May's unrelenting heat wave has shattered another record temperature at Tampa International Airport, this time hitting 97 degrees on a day when the previous record was 93.

The airport also tied a temperature record the day before, with a high of 98 on Wednesday. The previous record had been set in 1975.

"Ninety-eight degrees for May, that's crazy," said 10Weather WTSP meteorologist Bobby Deskins. "That's one degree from the warmest we've ever measured at Tampa International Airport — ever."

If you're keeping track, that makes nine record high temperatures since 2017 began, Deskins said. Thursday's previous record was set in 1995.

The airport has never hit 100 degrees, but Deskins thinks that's just a matter of time.

"I've been saying this for years now," he said. "I think it could go. It may go this year."

This year owes its intense heat to a serious lack of moisture, hot winds keeping the sea breeze offshore and plenty of sunshine. When the sun beats down on dry ground, heat builds fast.

Relief is on its way in the form of Florida's typical summer afternoon thunderstorm pattern, but that won't take hold until June. Until then, some weak showers this weekend may help bring temperatures down. Deskins said the showers could usher in moisture needed to build clouds that bring more rain.

He also said that while the record heat raises eyebrows, it's too early to pin it on climate change. Patterns may reveal themselves from a distance, but he said one heat event can't be examined in isolation.

"It's tough to say when you're in it," he said.

Contact Claire McNeill at cmcneill@tampabay.com.

Could Tampa reach 100 degrees for the first time ever? Another record heat day begs the question 05/18/17 [Last modified: Friday, May 19, 2017 8:57am]
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