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Record-breaking heat expected to hit Tampa Bay this week

High temperatures are expected to reach the low 90s in parts of inland Hillsborough, Hernando and Pasco counties.
Beach goers enjoy Pier 60 and the surf along Clearwater Beach Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Tampa Bay is expecting record-breaking heat with temperatures in the 90s this weekend.
Beach goers enjoy Pier 60 and the surf along Clearwater Beach Tuesday, March 16, 2021. Tampa Bay is expecting record-breaking heat with temperatures in the 90s this weekend. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Mar. 23
Updated Mar. 23

After a chilly start, parts of Tampa Bay could close out this week with high temperatures more than 10 degrees higher than normal.

The weather is expected to reach into the 90s from Thursday through Saturday for inland Hillsborough, Hernando and Pasco counties, according to Dan Noah of the National Weather Service’s Ruskin bureau.

The average high for Tampa this time of year is 77, records show. The 10-plus degree difference is significant for our region, Noah said. The heat is occurring because of southerly breezes spreading north and cloud cover leaving our region.

“Our climate doesn’t change all that rapidly, so 10 degrees is a big deal for us,” Noah said.

The heat is expected to break some records throughout Tampa Bay, according to Noah, but not likely in the coastal cities, as temperatures there aren’t expected to eclipse 90.

The greatest chance of shattering records will come for communities that are further inland. Brooksville, for example, set its record high on March 25 last year when temperatures reached 88, which is precisely the high expected there for Thursday.

Noah said that Tampa Bay will begin to slowly warm up on Wednesday — where the high is roughly 85 for the region — before peaking on Thursday.

Friday and Saturday will have equally hot temperatures, Noah said. Accompanying the heat will be low humidity levels and winds ranging from 10 to 15 miles per hour each day.

A weak cold front will drop temperatures slightly on Sunday, with highs in the mid-to-low 80s, Noah said.

Those who already miss the weather from Monday — where temperatures remained in the 60s even throughout the afternoon — may have to wait until fall to experience similar weather again.

By the end of March, the number of cold fronts that make it as far south as Tampa Bay are scarce, Noah said.

“It’s the time of year where the cold fronts are having a hard time getting down to the Tampa Bay area,” he said. “And when they do make it down, they’re incredibly weak.”