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Mid-90s in March? Parts of Tampa Bay broke heat records Thursday

The heat isn’t going anywhere, either. Meteorologists believe Friday and Saturday will be just as hot.
University of Tampa junior Kali Ray, 20 enjoys the warm temperatures while reading a book under her hammock at the University of Tampa on Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Tampa.
University of Tampa junior Kali Ray, 20 enjoys the warm temperatures while reading a book under her hammock at the University of Tampa on Thursday, March 25, 2021 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Mar. 25
Updated Mar. 25

It’s hot out there, Tampa Bay.

So hot, three cities in Central Florida — Brooksville, Lakeland and Winter Haven — broke their daily heat records on Thursday afternoon.

Brooksville reached 93, replacing the record-high of 88 that was set there last year, according to Paul Close, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Ruskin office.

The previous record in Lakeland was also 88 — set in 1954. Winter Haven’s previous high for March 25 was 87, from last year. Both Polk County cities reached 92 on Thursday, according to Close.

While not record-breaking on paper, the rest of Tampa Bay was scorching on Thursday, too.

The highest temperature recorded in the region came from Plant City, where mercury in thermometers shot up to 95, falling three degrees short of the city’s record-high of 98 set in 1907. Inland Hillsborough and Pasco counties were also in the low 90s, according to the weather service.

Tampa itself reached 88 degrees, keeping the city well below its record-high of 91 set in 1949 - though still plenty toasty for a March afternoon. By comparison, the historical average high for Tampa on March 25 was just 77 degrees.

Across the bay, St. Petersburg was slightly cooler with a high of 85, Close said.

A sea breeze is what kept temperatures below 90 in Tampa and St. Petersburg, Close said. In addition to making for a beautiful beach day, the Gulf of Mexico cooled air as it passed over and headed toward land, keeping our region’s coastal cities below their daily records.

That could change on Friday and Saturday, however.

That’s when Close said temperatures are expected to be equally hot as Thursday, with highs ranging from the mid-80s to low-90s throughout Tampa Bay. Absent a sea breeze like today, Tampa Bay’s coastal cities could get nearly as hot as those further inland.

“We’ve got two more days of potentially more records being broken,” Close said.