ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s supposed to be warm in Florida in February, but not like this. The heat arriving Wednesday and lasting through at least the upcoming weekend has the chance to amend the history books.
Daily temperature records will be threatened almost every day, but the highest temperature ever recorded here in the month of February may also happen this week.
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The hottest temperature ever recorded in Orlando during February was 90 degrees. That happened three times, twice in 1962 and once in 1935. The current forecast for Thursday is 91 degrees. Leesburg and Sanford could also feel their highest February temperature ever Thursday. Daytona Beach and Melbourne will be very close.
To make this upcoming heat wave even more historic, in Orlando, 90 degrees has only been reached in February three times going back to 1892. There will be five chances to reach the benchmark.
If Orlando does hit 90 degrees or hotter Wednesday or Thursday, it would be the second-earliest occurrence of 90 degrees on record.
A massive ridge of high pressure in the mid levels of our atmosphere will dominate the northern Caribbean and southwest Atlantic allowing for Florida and parts of the Southeast to bake.
This pattern is typical in a La Niña winter. This weather pattern also leads to extremely dry conditions for an extended period of time and the abnormally dry to drought conditions in Central Florida could expand and worsen over the next couple of weeks.
While it will be relatively humid, it won’t match middle-of-the-summer humidity and therefore wildfires can also be ignited easier.
While this pattern and heat can be explained by meteorology, the overall warming climate is likely enhancing the impact. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and Southwest Atlantic are also much above normal, helping to keep the temperatures higher overnight down the peninsula.
Meanwhile, across the northern tier of the U.S. and Plains, a major Arctic outbreak will occur. Temperatures from Minnesota through Montana could plummet to 20 to 30 degrees below zero without the wind. High temperatures will be below zero at the same time Florida is surging into the 90s.
Where the two air masses collide, a major storm will be expected with heavy snow on the cold side and the threat for more severe weather in the Deep South.
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