July 2022 will go down in the books as the hottest month on record in Tampa. But should it have been?
July is a hot month, so the fact that it was very warm is not a surprise. Tampa's official observation at the airport recorded its hottest month on record.
The June-July period of 2022 was also the hottest 2-month period on record. Most of the hottest months and 2-month periods on record have occurred in the last 10 years in Tampa.
But, these records with this frequency haven't been happening in other sites around the Tampa Bay Area.
July is one of our climatologically hot months across the area. It also can rain a lot during July. Much of the opportunity to cool down during the summer months happens because of widespread showers and thunderstorms.
Our normal pattern of an east to southeast wind would typically support mid-70s for lows and low 90s for highs. But lately, the official location lags in the cooling department during the late night and morning hours. July 2022 is the perfect example of that.
We have noticed an issue with the temperatures in Tampa for a few years now. We even wrote a blog about it 4 years ago.
So, what exactly are we talking about here?
During July 2022, 22 of the 31 days featured the typical pattern with an east or southeast wind flow. The other days had the reverse pattern out of the southwest, which keeps our mornings warmer.
Despite that, the official lows in Tampa were several degrees warmer than other sites around the area for almost all of those mornings during that pattern.
For most mornings, even the sensor at MacDill Air Force Base was 4 to 5 degrees cooler than Tampa International Airport. The reason that is important is water surrounds MacDill, and that keeps the lows warmer.
Even with that, the low at Tampa International just doesn't cool down. Tampa was even warmer in the morning than the St Petersburg observation, which sites right on Tampa Bay!
Over the last few years, we would watch the temperatures during the first few hours after sunset. At the official Tampa site, the numbers would take 2 to 3 hours to begin a decline, when all other sites would see the numbers backing off earlier. This leads to a shorter period of overnight cooling.
For July, Tampa averaged 86.3 degrees, about 2.5 degrees above normal, because of the morning lows’ departure from normal.
Other sites around the area averaged 0.5 to 1.5 degrees above normal, with almost an equal difference in high and low temperatures.
Scientists have kept records in Tampa since 1890. The official observation location has changed several times over the years. It has been downtown but has been at the airport site since 1940.
Rapid expansion of the airport has caused the site to move several times since it arrived at the airport location.
Perhaps it is time to move it again. Whether or not at the airport, maybe downtown or another site as its current location is just not a good representation of the area's climate.