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Record heat at Tampa International Airport caused by "heat island effect"

Posted at 9:56 PM, Oct 02, 2018

The meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Tampa said favorable winds, heat, and more urbanization is smashing temperature records at the airport.

On Saturday and Sunday, the temperatures at the airport reached 97 degrees.  On Monday and Tuesday, we hit 96.

"These are the actual temperatures at Tampa International Airport," Brian LaMarre said. He said the airport is hotter than surrounding areas because it's turned into a heat island.

"It’s going to be blowing over very hot concrete that’s over the development area of
Tampa International Airport, Westshore Mall," LaMarre said. "Downtown Tampa is spreading, urbanized areas are getting bigger, and paving over what once were grassy areas and that’s what’s really causing a lot of the extra heat for the local temperature."

LaMarre said the sensors where they measure the heat at the airport were also spiking, going from 91 to 97 degrees at times in a matter of minutes. Scientists are replacing the sensors but said the record-breaking heat they recorded is accurate.  

LaMarre wants to stress that just because it hit 97 at the airport doesn't mean your neighborhood is that hot.

"If you walk around in another grassy area in Tampa it’ll be a little bit cooler because that pavement is not radiating up to the temperature," LaMarre said.  

The airport is radiating heat, but so are other parts of Florida.  Last September was the hottest on record and LaMarre said a warming trend is something they've watched for several years.

"The record we broke yesterday of 96 degrees, ironically we broke last year," LaMarre said. He says there were also nine other locations in Florida that were the "hottest ever in September."

When will the heat end?  The current pattern and winds will continue for several more days.