Florida's 2017 Has Been the Hottest Year on Record

Miamians still don't spend enough time worrying about global warming. Sure, we've got multiple city task forces dedicated to making sure Dade County isn't underwater by the year 2100. But construction across town has continued to boom, to the point that it seems like real-estate developers believe they're building in landlocked Colorado as opposed to a city that can adequately be described as "pre-Venice."

Plus, we're neglecting another aspect of climate change that might be just as important: It'll get seriously, inhospitably hot here. According to new data that the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) released last week, this has been the hottest beginning to any year in recorded Florida history.

"Temperatures were well above average across the Southeast region, with numerous record-breaking extremes observed during April," the NCEI wrote online.

According to the NCEI, the entire United States is experiencing a temperature boom this year. From January through April, temperatures averaged 43.7 degrees Fahrenheit, a solid 4.5 degrees higher than the 20th-century average. States across the South were largely responsible: Every Southern state from New Mexico through Florida and then all the way up to Ohio recorded a record-warm four months. Across the nation, the average daytime temperature — 54.6 degrees — was the third-highest recorded, and the average night temperature — 32.7 degrees — was the second-highest since measurements began in 1895.

According to the NCEI, the heat across the Sunshine State was sweltering throughout April, to a record-shattering degree.

"Thirteen long-term [weather] stations, including eight in Florida, observed or tied their highest daily maximum temperature on record for April," the NCEI wrote. "On the 29th and 30th, Tampa, FL (1890-2017) observed its highest and second highest daily maximum temperature on record for April, reaching 96 and 95 degrees F (35.6 and 35.0 degrees C), respectively"

The heat, of course, is baking the state to a crisp. The NCEI warned that drought conditions are worsening across the state, which helps explain why Florida caught fire in April. The Palm Beach Post reported Friday that more than 100 wildfires still burn across the state as local firefighters pray for the state's rainy season to begin. Severe to extreme drought conditions span the central part of the state.

"In contrast, drought continued to intensify and expand across much of the Florida peninsula, with approximately one third of the state classified in severe drought by the end of the month," the NCEI wrote.

This all confirms a frightening trend: According to data the website Climate Central released last year, Florida tops the nation in terms of global-warming heat-risk moving forward. By 2050, 13 Florida cities, including Tampa, Naples, and Miami, are set to see a minimum of 100 days per year of miserable, borderline-intolerable heat-index conditions above 104 degrees.

Miami was also listed as the city expected to see the largest increase in 90-plus-degree days by midcentury. This also poses another question for the (possible) 2.5 million Miamians expected to become refugees by 2100 due to rising seas: If the rest of the state is inhospitably hot, where will they all end up?

The increase, of course, was linked to one thing: greenhouse gas emissions. Multiple reports have shown that South Florida's local governments barely have plans in place to deal with the ever-rising seas, which swell as the glaciers melt and as heat causes water molecules to expand. But by the time Miami is able to beat back walls of rising water, the rest of the state might have burned by then.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.