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Temperature records are melting away in Miami

Miami on June 21. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
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This story has been updated.

The heat has risen to a whole new level in Miami over the past week.

The city has experienced heat that is extreme, even by its own sultry standards, with a slew of record high temperatures. Most notably, Miami soared to 98 degrees Monday, tying its highest June temperature ever recorded and its second-highest temperature in any month.

“Unprecedented. That’s how I can best describe the #heatwave in #Miami,” tweeted John Morales, chief meteorologist for Miami’s NBC affiliate.

Miami is known for being hot and steamy in the summer, and for good reason. June through September, high temperatures typically range from 89 to 92 degrees, and they’re accompanied by suffocating humidity levels. Without the periodic cold fronts that offer relief to locations farther north, the steamy conditions are unrelenting.

While Miami is persistently muggy, reaching the mid-90s or higher is rare due to moderating ocean winds. (Its hottest temperature ever recorded is 100, lower than many cities well to its north.)

Yet, over the past six days, high temperatures at Miami International Airport soared to 94 to 98 degrees. The heat only eased modestly at night, settling between 80 and 81 degrees.

On many days, oppressive heat and humidity arrived within hours of sunrise. Strikingly, a weather station in Virginia Key, a small island east of downtown Miami, logged a record high of 88 degrees at 8:30 in the morning Wednesday, with a heat index of 102.

Miami has posted seven daily record highs this month and seven days 95 degrees or higher, the most on record in June.

The month to date ranks as the third hottest on record, behind 1998 and 2010.

The hot June fits into what has been an abnormally toasty year so far, ranking second hottest year-to-date, behind 2017. A record eight days have hit 95 or higher in 2019 so far.

Two ingredients appear to have conspired to bring on this most recent heat wave: an abnormally strong ridge of high pressure; and a hefty dose of dry, dust-laden Saharan air. Both act to suppress clouds, thunderstorms and rain, and the Saharan air layer tends to act like an infrared blanket, trapping heat under it.

The heat has not been localized to Miami. Much of the Florida peninsula has experienced record heat over the past several days, and many areas are on track to have their hottest first half of the year on record.

Some relief lies at the end of the steamy tunnel: The forecast calls for highs dipping down to the upper 80s with increased chances of thunderstorms . . . back to normal!