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March on pace to be warmest ever recorded in Tampa Bay

The heat just keeps coming.

After the warmest winter in 65 years, March looks like it will set a record for the month, becoming the hottest in more than 120 years of record keeping.

Through Thursday, the average temperature at Tampa International Airport was 74.2 degrees — nearly 7 degrees above the normal of 67.3.

"That's impressive — records began in 1890," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez.

The current record for the month is 73.9, set in 1997.

Highs Friday and Saturday — the final day of March — are forecast to hover in the mid 80s.

That's really not much of a surprise.

The Tampa Bay region has had highs in the 80s every day this month except for March 4 and March 5, which peaked in the 70s, Marquez said.

"I think for our area, one of the things has just been the consistency of how warm it has been," she said. "We're used to it being warm, it's just that it's been consistently warm."

The record heat for the month is made even more impressive considering that there haven't been many daily temperature records.

The only record high temperature recorded at Tampa International was on March 21, when the mercury hit 88 degrees.

Although this month is a sure bet for the top 10 warmest, meteorologists say the rain forecast this weekend could drop the average below the record high. Rain chances were 20 percent on Friday and 40 percent today, according to Bay News 9.

Marquez credits a huge ridge of high pressure that has been blocking cooler weather from entering the state.

"The really cool air, the systems and the storm fronts aren't coming to Florida," she said.

Beyond Florida, the Southeast and much of the Midwest also have had above-average temperatures.

March on pace to be warmest ever recorded in Tampa Bay 03/30/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 31, 2012 12:05am]
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