West Palm Beach on track for hottest summer on record

West Palm Beach is on track to burn through its hottest summer on record with average temperatures running 2.7 degrees above normal and heat records falling like the very sweat from our brows.

After three consecutive days — and likely a fourth — of warm overnight temperatures making history, Florida Climatologist David Zierden said it’s possible summer 2016 will overtake record-holder 2011, which ended its June-through-August run with an average temp of 2.7 degrees above normal.

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“Since we are running so much warmer than normal halfway through the summer and with the extended outlook calling for a good chance of continued warmer than normal temperatures, there is a good chance we will break the record,” Zierden said.

A flurry of tropical systems, however, could derail the temperature climb, he added.

But as of Monday, July has had eight days that broke or tied heat records for those dates and may have added a ninth when overnight lows dipped only to 84 degrees Monday morning. The record low for July 18 is 82 degrees set in 2010. June had five days that either tied or broke heat records.

“We’re under this high-pressure system and we’re getting lots of sun during the day,” said Larry Kelley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “We’ve been setting records at West Palm Beach for a good chunk of the month.”

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Florida’s not alone in feeling the heat. Forecasters are warning that triple-digit temperatures and high humidity will punish much of the central and southern U.S. this week.

The National Weather Service characterized the coming temperatures as “a dangerous heat wave” and “rare.” With dew-point levels in the 70s to near 80, the heat index, or “feels like” temperature, is expected to soar past 110 degrees in multiple cities.

“More people die each year from heat than cold waves, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes or floods,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

The vague definition says a heat wave is a period of “abnormally and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather” that typically lasts two or more days.

West Palm Beach’s 92-degree high Monday marked the 25th consecutive day of temperatures reaching 90 degrees or higher. It also marked the 26th day of abnormally warm temperatures, reaching back into June, which finished the month as the 6th warmest June on record.

“Temperatures reached or exceeded 90 degrees on 17 days, well above the normal June value of 12 days,” wrote NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Robert Molleda in his monthly weather report.

The normal high temperature for this time of year is 90 degrees, with a normal overnight low of 76 degrees.

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But the mounting days of 90-degrees or warmer in West Palm Beach isn’t anywhere near the record. In 1951, the National Weather Service recorded 71 consecutive days of 90-plus temperatures — a heat wave that finally broke on Sept. 27.

The second longest period of consecutive 90-plus days in West Palm Beach was 49 in 1956.

“West Palm Beach is setting records, it’s been warm, but we still have a ways to go,” said Kelley about beating the 71-day mark.

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