The Tampa Bay area will experience extreme heat for the rest of the week and into the weekend, with daily temperatures expected to be in the mid-90s through Monday. The heat index — the “feels like” temperature calculated from a combination of relative humidity and air temperature — is also expected to reach dangerous levels.
The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Thursday for the Tampa Bay area from noon until 6 p.m., warning of the risks of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. The heat index was expected to soar as high as 112 degrees.
The heat index will remain above 100 for the next few days, according to meteorologist Nicole Carlisle from the National Weather Service in Ruskin. It’s forecast to be about 105 on Friday and Saturday and 103 on Sunday.
“We issue a heat advisory when the heat index reaches 108 or higher,” Carlisle said. This is when it becomes potentially dangerous to spend prolonged periods outdoors, she said.
One factor causing the increase in temperatures is a cloud of dust from the Sahara desert that is now over the Tampa Bay area. The dust lowers the chance of rain, which increases temperatures. The dust also lessens the chance of tropical storm formation and makes our sunsets more colorful.
If you’re not sure if it’s safe to go outside in the heat, you can check the National Weather Service’s heat index safety chart. It provides the heat index for any given air temperature and relative humidity value, and notes the appropriate level of caution.
The risk of heat illness is heightened for people who work or play sports outside. The National Weather Service recommends taking regular breaks while working outdoors and drinking plenty of fluids.
The weather service also recommends taking these steps when the heat reaches dangerous levels:
- Try to stay in air-conditioning
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid strenuous activity
- Stay in the shade as much as possible
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing
- Provide shade and water for your pets
- Check on neighbors
- Never leave pets or children in vehicles for any amount of time