Florida Keys News
Friday, June 18, 2010
Summer comes early in the Keys

The calendar says it's not even officially summer yet.

But as anyone who has stepped outside has noticed, the thermometer is spinning a different yarn.

The first 15 days of June brought average temperatures of 85.8 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Marathon, 3.6 degrees above normal and the hottest for that time period since the National Weather Service began tracking readings at the Marathon Airport a decade ago.

At Key West International Airport, the average temperature of 85.3 degrees for the first half of June was the fifth hottest since 1948, meteorologist Tony Fuentes said.

It's all adding up to uncomfortable times for people who have to labor under the hot sun.

"This is the third day in a row that it has just been blistering hot," said Gregory Scott, an arborist for Dot Palm landscaping in Marathon.

Scott and crew were busy Wednesday removing coconuts from a condominium complex border at the Key West Golf Club. He said the heat has been so intense of late that the team of six is going through 15 gallons of water a day, more than double their usual.

Scott Daida, a National Weather Service forecaster, said the unusually hot weather of late was born of a long period of easterly winds in early May, which brought in warm air from the eastern Atlantic and tropics, which in turn increased water temperatures. Since then the waters -- which strongly impact Keys air temperatures -- have had little chance to cool, as winds have been consistently weak. The National Weather Service hasn't issued a small craft advisory for the Keys since May 15.

On Wednesday, the water temperature in Florida Bay off of Long Key was 90 degrees and the temperature at Molasses Reef off of Key Largo was 87 degrees. The average June temperature for those locations is 85.6 and 83.3 degrees, respectively.

The hot weather has brought booming business to the Founders Park swimming pool in Islamorada, according to lifeguard Brian Scott.

"We are much more busy than normal, probably up by 50 percent," he said.

But the heat hasn't been all good news at the pool. Above the red brick surface that borders the Founders Park pool the thermometer recorded 98 degrees. Meanwhile, the brick itself measured 107 degrees ... and rising.

So, in order to make the barefooted wait comfortable for the children in the high dive line, Scott has taken to throwing gallons of ice on the pavement.

August, said the veteran lifeguard, has come in June.

"It's borderline unbearable as of late," he said.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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