It’s hot out there! Keys breaking records with high temperatures

The Florida Keys have been setting record high temperatures this week.
The Florida Keys have been setting record high temperatures this week. McClatchy file photo

No, it’s not just you. It’s been hotter than usual in the Florida Keys over the past week.

It may be winter, but consecutive sunny days have heated up the island chain.

Marathon, about 50 miles north of Key West, has broken records since Feb. 17, when the high hit 87 degrees, and on Feb. 18, when the mercury went up to 88, along with record low temperatures hitting 78 and 79 degrees over the same time period, according to the National Weather Service.

“Last I checked it was 86, which is another record high for today,” Stephen Chesser, a forecaster at NWS in Key West, said on Wednesday. “That will be five in a row depending on how warm we get today.”

Key West had significant February highs on Feb. 18 and 19, when the highs tied the record at 84 degrees both days. Key West has also had record warm minimums for Feb. 18 and 19, at 77 and 78, respectively.

The flip-flop weather is connected to the warm waters, which are in the high 70s, surrounding the Keys.

“Lots of sunshine warms the water up and that doesn’t let us get any cooler that that,” Chesser said. “The wind off the water isn’t going to cool you off. Land heats up five times faster than the water does.”

And the heat will continue throughout the weekend and into Monday, according to the latest forecast, with highs around 84 and 83 in Marathon and in the low 80s in Key West.

Chesser said the warm weather is cyclical. “It may have something to do with the pending El Nino we’ve got setting up,” he said.

It’s nothing to be alarmed about, he added.

“They’re not abnormally warm,” Chesser said. “We’re not smashing records, we’re beating them like two to three degrees maximum.”

He said Marathon’s data set is small compared to that of Key West, where they’ve been recording temperatures since 1873. NWS has only been monitoring the temperatures in Marathon since 1951.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.