Record heat this early in the year means only one thing for Lonny Palardy:
A long hot summer.
"This past weekend our phones were ringing nonstop," said Palardy, a sales manager for ABS Air Conditioning. His crews fielded up to 50 calls a day and worked 12 hours or more Saturday and Sunday.
Several high-temperature records were broken over the weekend in Tampa Bay as easterly winds pushed back gulf sea breezes that normally help cool the area. A dome of high pressure provided more heat by keeping clouds away.
The forecast is for more of the same. High temperatures Monday reached the mid 90s, only a degree or two shy of the record.
This always brings a spike in business, Palardy said, but usually not this early.
"This is probably going to be a pretty busy year for the air-conditioning industry," said Palardy, whose company serves five counties in the Tampa Bay area.
Records were set from the Panhandle this weekend, where the mercury topped 100, to much of Central Florida.
Bradenton set a record with 98 degrees Saturday. Tampa's high of 96 passed the previous high of 95 set in 1977, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez. The high Friday in St. Petersburg was 97 degrees, 2 degrees above the high set back in 1978.
With temperatures running several degrees above normal, local pools are swimming with activity. Fossil Park Pool in St. Petersburg was at capacity — 249 swimmers — Saturday and Sunday, said Anita Westmoreland, recreation supervisor for eight St. Petersburg pools.
With school ending last week, making Monday the "first day of summer" for pools, pool traffic likely will remain high, Westmoreland said.
As high humidity makes the heat more oppressive, one meteorologist offered another reason why it seems so hot.
"People have the impression that summer is getting off to a hot start. Mainly that's because we had an unusually cold winter,'' said Anthony Reynes of the National Weather Service in Ruskin.
Relief is nowhere in sight, at least not this week, with forecasters predicting temperatures 5 or 6 degrees above normal.
"We are definitely going to be closer to records than we are to what's normal," Marquez said.