TAMPA — If you think it was hot in August, the kind of hot that burns your fingers when you grip the steering wheel or wilts your reserve when you walk across a shimmering parking lot of black tar, you’re right.
But while August was hotter than normal, it was not hot enough to break records, though the thermometers flirted with that on several days.
Still, “It was hot,” said Rodney Wynn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin on Friday afternoon.
This is the time of year when humidity teams up with the relentless sun to make the great outdoors miserable, and this August was no different, particularly near the end of the month. Tampa International Airport recorded a high of 95 degrees on Aug. 24, according to the Weather Service, tying the record set on that date in 1975.
Several days during the middle part of the month were close to record highs of 95 and 96, records show, but fell slightly short.
Wynn said the average temperature for August as of Friday was 84.1, one full degree above normal. The average temperature Thursday, he said, was 86 degrees, three degrees above normal.
“It’s not a drastic difference,” Wynn said. “But it’s still warmer.”
The average high this time of the year is 91.4 degrees and during several days of August, temperatures topped out at 93 at the airport, which is where Tampa’s official temperatures are recorded.
The heat index, which is a measure of how hot it feels, was worse.
The heat index was well over 100 in Tampa for several days in mid-August and hit 107 one day in Sarasota. Wynn said the Weather Service was close that day to issuing a heat advisory but didn’t because a heat index must reach 108 for such action to be taken.
The abnormally high temperatures were the result of dry air overhead, which was unusual for normally humid August. The dry air prevented cloud cover, meaning more sun and fewer afternoon showers. So far in August, 1.6 fewer inches of rain fell than normal, Wynn said.
Now that August is over, we’re in what typically is the peak time for Atlantic hurricanes, with the major storms often churning in the eastern Atlantic and chugging west toward the Caribbean and Florida.