TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s no secret that it’s been an especially warm summer in Tampa Bay, but a new study is predicting that Florida could go from 25 days of heat indexes above 100 degrees to multiple months of the extreme heat.
Researchers analyzed heat records from 1970 to 2000 to develop historical averages for cities, counties, states and regions in the southern United States. To develop predictions they used 18 different climate models to project temperatures into the future.
The predictions largely depend on the idea that no significant action to cut carbon emissions and the result: dangerous temperatures by mid-century.
Factoring in the amount of carbon emissions being produced, the new study estimates that Florida will experience “105 days with a heat index over 100 degrees F (up from just 25 days historically) and 63 days with a heat index over 105 degrees F.”
Across the Tampa Bay area, the effects of the change will be up to more than five times the extent of those ultra-hot days that are felt now.
In Pinellas County specifically, there have historically been 23 days with a heat index above 100 degrees. That is predicted to increase to 122 days in only a few decades.
Scientists also created an interactive tool, which gives specific estimates for various regions, counties and cities.
Coming off the heels of record-setting heat in May — when temperatures in Florida were nearly 4 degrees warmer than usual — the study serves as a reminder for safety in the heat.
“When extreme heat conditions prevent our bodies from adequately cooling, our core temperatures rise, especially during periods of prolonged exposure,” the report says. “Heat stress and then heat exhaustion follow as body temperature rises upward. Once the body’s core temperature reaches 104°F or higher, heat stroke—the most severe heat-related illness—can result. “