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Record Heat Possible In Florida This Week

The hottest air mass of the 2021 calendar year may set a few records across the Sunshine State this week.

A powerful ridge of high pressure is expected to dominate the Southeastern United States and will be the primary catalyst for the hot temperatures. The gusty east wind from the Atlantic for much of the past week has prevented the mercury from getting far above mid-May average temperatures.

A change in the position of the high pressure ridge will cause the winds to blow from the north through a deep layer of the atmosphere starting Monday. North winds in the winter months often supply chilly temperatures, but the strong sun angle in late May and the wind blowing off the land often give temperatures a big boost in the warmer months of the year.

Highs are forecast to reach into the mid and upper 90s away from the coastline. Leesburg, Lakeland, and Winter Haven are all forecast to be within 1 degree of their record highs on Monday and Tuesday. Additional records may be tied or broken Wednesday through Friday, particularly in central and southwest Florida. Areas within a few miles of the Gulf and Atlantic Ocean will stay in the 80s and avoid the heat next week.

Very dry air in the atmosphere will transfer to the ground each afternoon, so the dew point and relative humidity will be far below mid-summer norms for Florida. Little rain is forecast through next week, but most of the state remains drought-free thanks to generous rain in April. The lone exception is in Collier County, where NOAA's Drought Monitor says there is a moderate drought ongoing.

Ray is a meteorologist for the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN).