Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay area's spring was second-hottest in history


Times Staff Writer

Carrying a wicker basket, visual artist Samson vanOverwater ducked into an air conditioned store in downtown St. Petersburg, looking for a little relief from the oppressive heat.

"It's suffocatingly hot, like being in a warm woolen coat in the basement of an abandoned building in Beirut," he said.

The artist may have been waxing poetic, but there's no mistaking the extreme of this spring.

Weather experts said Monday it was the second-hottest spring ever in the Tampa Bay area, and the latest in a slew of record-shattering weather events in Florida.

As summer begins today, Tampa Bay residents are already reeling from three consecutive weeks of 90-plus temperatures. The mercury hit 94 Monday in Tampa, and 92 in St. Petersburg. What the temperature felt like hovered around 100.

The springtime sizzle meant both cities have had an average temperature of more than 79 degrees since the beginning of April. The all-time record for Tampa, just tenths of a degree higher than this year, was set last year, while 1991 saw the hottest spring in St. Petersburg.

"Without a lot of rain and without a lot of clouds, we just have lots of sunshine and it's hot," said Juli Marquez, Bay News 9 meteorologist.

The heat was caused by a massive high pressure system hovered over the Gulf of Mexico, trapping warm air and preventing sea breezes from blowing cooling cloud cover into the area, said Chris Fenimore, a physical scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But the spring heat is only the latest in a series of extreme weather since 2009.

The winter of 2009 and 2010 produced historic cold. Last summer, Tampa Bay records evaporated as all-time high temperatures scorched the region. Then came another record cold winter which devastated crops and animals.

While weather experts debate the cause, many attribute it to changing environmental conditions paired with unusually strong weather patterns.

But Jeff Masters, director of meteorology and founder of, said heightened levels of carbon dioxide in the air and greenhouse gas emissions are only part of the story.

Last year, carbon dioxide levels were the highest ever recorded, Masters said, but that alone could not cause such dramatic weather patterns. He cited the importance of El Nino, warm surface waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and La Nina, colder surface waters in the same, and the direct effect they can have on U.S. weather.

Wiping beads of sweat from their brows Monday afternoon, several Tampa Bay residents grumbled about climate change and global warming as they blamed human carelessness for their discomfort.

Last month, Florida cities recorded 71 all-time high temperatures. Three weeks into June, that number is 77.

Rain is predicted to arrive by the end of the week, but high temperatures are unlikely to drop below average.

"I don't like it, but I guess it's right," said 47-year-old Bruce Wilson, a construction worker. "Florida is what it's supposed to be: hot."

Tampa Bay area's spring was second-hottest in history 06/20/11 [Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2011 10:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn proposes $974 million budget for 2018

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn today proposed a $974.2 million budget for next year that would raise the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989 and use the additional revenue to improve parks, expand fire service and prepare for looming financial challenges in the years ahead.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presented his proposed $974.2 million budget for 2018 to the City Council on Thursday. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times (2016)
  2. A second chance at life, away from the game he loved

    The Heater

    Dylan Delso, a catcher for the Tampa Bay Rays' Gulf Coast League team, displays his scar at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Tuesday, June 20, 2017. On June 25, 2016 Delso fell backward down a flight of stairs, suffering a nearly fatal head injury that put him in a coma for eight days. He's finally back on the baseball field after a miraculous recovery.
  3. Florida house where O.J. Simpson lived listed for $1.3 million


    MIAMI — What happened to the Florida home where O.J. Simpson lived with his children after his acquittal in the death of his ex-wife and her friend?

    O.J. Simpson explains his golf scoring to his daughter, Sydney, as he played golf on Key Biscayne in Miami in 1997. The house south of Miami where Simpson lived with Sydney and his son, Justin, until his 2008 conviction in an armed robbery involving two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas, is on the market. [AP photo]
  4. Behind the lens: To capture an exhilarating moment, it's better to be lucky AND good


    Editor's note: Boyzell Hosey, our Assistant Managing Editor - Photography/Multimedia, shot this image while on a family vacation in Alaska. Below is his description of the shot.

  5. Council candidate James Scott sees a green future for St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — James Scott's central tenet is sustainability.

    St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate James Scott. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   TIMES]