Florida’s average temperature was the highest on record for the first four months of 2017 as the state suffers widespread brush fires and drought.
According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, Florida’s average temperature for January through April was 66.6 degrees, which is the warmest since records began in 1895.
Related: If you thought it was a hot winter, you were right
Florida wasn’t alone in the setting a heat record. Fourteen states stretching from the southwest to the mid-Atlantic also reached their highest average temperatures for January through April.
Forty states were much warmer than average through April.
Climate scientists and meteorologists had trouble pointing to one reason for the heat this year.
La Nina can lead to a warmer, drier southeast, but it dissipated in late January and February.
“This is our 15th consecutive month of above normal temperatures,” said Florida climatologist David Zierden. “January of 2016 was our last month that had below normal temperatures.”
Wildfire burns on the Treasure Coast in this Feb. 16, 2017 photo
Zierden is hesitant to say the streak of warm months is global warming, but he said there is a chance 2017 will again break heat records.
“This consistent above average temperature trend for the past two years makes you ask the question if it’s global warming,” Zierden said. “A two-year period is not enough to exclusively attribute it to climate change, but it is certainly enough to ask the question.”
Jake Crouch, a NOAA climatologist, told Climate Central, that the February heat wave is what pushed the rankings so high.
Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.
“I think the potential development of the El Nino and how the drought conditions expand or intensify going into summer will be the two things to watch on determining how warm 2017 ultimately ends up being,” Crouch told Climate Central.
In South Florida, the first four months of 2017 were the sixth warmest on record based on the average temperature of 71.7 degrees, which is 3.2 degrees above the 20th Century average.
Last year, the contiguous U.S. suffered the second-highest temperature, with scientists calling the breadth of the warmth “unparalleled” in the nation’s climate history.
Earth endured its third consecutive year of record heat in 2016, continuing an alarming, but not surprising, trend of warmer temperatures turbocharged by the humans who call it home, scientists said during a press conference earlier this year.