As summer arrives Wednesday, the mid-afternoon air will feel more like a furnace than the crisp coolness of the past week. In other words, it will feel like summer.
That’s a change from the recent trend this year: Winter didn’t feel like winter, spring felt more like early summer and June has felt more like April.
But as Wednesday’s heat arrives and parks itself over the region for the next few days, summer will feel, finally, like summer, which we might not be ready for.
“If this hangs on for three days, that would exceed anything we’ve seen thus far this year and, with that, the danger increases for health,” said David Robinson, the state climatologist and Rutgers University professor. “It’s always the first heatwave of the year that is the most worrisome.”
A heat advisory is in effect for the entire region for Thursday, except for the immediate coast. Today’s high temperature is expected to reach the mid 90s inland, according to the National Weather Service. The light westerly breeze and high humidity will make it feel close too 100 degrees. Thursday, the temperature inland could reach closer to 100 degrees, with the heat index between 100 and 105 degrees.
Coastal areas won’t be much cooler. High temperatures today are expected to reach the upper 80s to near 90 degrees, again with high humidity and relatively light westerly breezes. Thursday, the high temperature will be in the low 90s, the weather service said.
Atlantic County spokeswoman Linda Gilmore said the county does not set up specific heat shelters, but said officials always direct those who need to get out of the heat to go to the county libraries or senior centers, in addition to area shopping malls or movie theaters.
Tuesday’s overcast skies and cool temperatures did not deter many beachgoers in Ocean City from hitting the sand and lifeguards there said they expect the heat will draw plenty of visitors to the area from the Philadelphia area, which is under an excessive heat warning.
The beach by the Music Pier in Ocean City was almost as packed Tuesday as it would be on a holiday weekend. “As soon as school lets out, that’s what you see down here,” said Ocean City lifeguard Matt Betson. “It’s going to blow up this weekend. Everyone up in the city’s going to be hot, and so they’ll all come down here.”
Among those enjoying the weather Tuesday were Raymond and Yadiana Gigantino, of Deptford, Gloucester County, watched their 6-year-old son Raymond build a series of sandcastles on the beach in Ocean City as they relaxed in the sun.
“The spring was mild,” the elder Raymond said. As for the expected heat of the next few days, “That’s good for me. I’m always cold. The hotter the better.”
Olivia Famous, of Valley Forge, Pa., said she was enjoying the sun and sand after a few days of “windy, chilly” weather. “Hopefully, the summer will be hot like this.”
Famous may not be in for a long hot haul. As astronomical summer rolls around just after 7 p.m. today, the change of season marks what might be the first cooler than average month in 16 months, Robinson said. June so far has come in at 3 degrees below normal. And the next three days of heat likely are not enough to reverse that trend completely and the weather forecast for the next two weeks shows no sign of any additional blasts of hot weather, Robinson said.
“That’s one thing that struck me about this one is that you can see the tail end of the heat wave before it begins,” Robinson said. “Last year we saw the heat beginning and there were many times we didn’t see when it would slack.”
Friday afternoon, a cold front is expected to move across the region and temperatures by this weekend will cool off again.
Overall, spring was considered the warmest on record in Atlantic City with records dating back to 1874, according to the National Weather Service. The average temperature of March, April and May combined was 56.6 degrees, 0.6 degrees warmer than the previous hottest spring on record in 2010.
Concerns of a short-term moderate drought were significant throughout this past winter and early spring, when at one point, the region had received nearly half of its normal rainfall. The region was listed by the National Drought Monitor as being in a moderate short-term drought for several weeks. But recent rains coming from large storm systems or heavy thunderstorms have brought the region’s rainfall closer to normal.
Currently, the region has received about 2 inches of rain less than it typically does since January 1, however the rainfall this month so far has been nearly 1.8 inches of rain above normal, according to the National Weather Service.
Staff Writer Steven Lemongello contributed to this report.
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