Aug 1, 2023 - Climate

Tampa Bay clocks hottest month on record in July

Animated illustration of a melting, silhouetted palm tree against a sunny sky with heat distortion.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

It's official. July was our hottest month ever recorded.

State of steam: The Tampa Bay area hit a record high average temperature of 86.5°, NWS Tampa Bay confirmed Tuesday to Axios. The previous area record was 86.3°.

  • Records were broken at NWS observing sites in Brooksville, Plant City, Lakeland, Sarasota-Bradenton, Punta Gorda and Fort Meyers.

Why it matters: Extreme heat can be deadly and cities around the nation are struggling to help citizens stay cool. Some of the nation's most vulnerable aren't getting enough to eat or drink.

Zoom in: Hillsborough County's office of emergency management and homeless services handed out nearly 300 "cool-down kits" and bottled water to help residents avoid dehydration, sunburn, and heat exhaustion, county spokesperson Chris Wilkerson told Axios.

  • The county, along with Tampa Police and the county sheriff's department, is ready to distribute 300 more kits in the coming week. Highs are expected to reach 94℉ later this week.

The big picture: Last month included the warmest three weeks yet recorded worldwide, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

  • Based on paleoclimate records from tree rings and other sources, scientists said it is likely the hottest month since at least 100,000 years ago.

Between the lines: NWS Tampa Bay forecaster Yidiana Zayas-Rivera told Axios that the area's heat wave and the drought declared Saturday are being driven by a persistent westerly wind flow, which is keeping most of the rain inland.

What they're saying: Scientists around the world have firmly linked the heat to climate change.

  • Heat waves, including the marine heat wave killing corals in South Florida, are more likely to occur and more severe because of climate change, University of Miami researcher Brian McNoldy told Axios.
  • One study released last week found that the U.S. and European heat waves this summer would have been "virtually impossible" without human-caused climate change.
  • World Meteorological Organization secretary-general Petteri Taalas called July's extreme weather events, "The harsh reality of climate change and a foretaste of the future."

What's ahead: The heat isn't over yet. NWS Tampa Bay told Axios that above-average temperatures are likely to continue into October.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

No stories could be found

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more