Florida ocean water just hit a 'boiling' 97 degrees. That's bad for several reasons.

Beach in Florida amid record heat wave
(Image credit: Giorgio Viera / AFP via Getty Images)

Everything is hot in Florida this week: The weather, inflation, beach sand, and somewhat alarmingly, the ocean water as well. Surface ocean temperatures around the Florida keys hit a "downright shocking" 92 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend, meteorologist Bob Henson marveled Sunday. "That's boiling for them!" agreed Jeff Berardelli, chief meteorologist and climate specialist at WFLA-TV in Tampa. "More typically it would be in the upper 80s."

On Monday evening, water temperatures off Johnson Key came close to 97 degrees (36.1 degree Celsius). That reading was in shallow water, but "the water temperatures are 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit around much of Florida, which is extremely warm," University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy told The Associated Press. He told The Washington Post the ocean temperatures off Florida have hit "bona fide bathtub conditions that we rarely see."

Warm ocean water may sound pleasant, but Florida is also sweltering under a record-shattering heat dome that has kept heat index temperatures hitting 100 degrees and higher for the past 30 days. "The water is so warm you really can't cool off," said National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Orrison. The warm water is also keeping the air more humid than normal, he added, preventing nighttime cooling and "making things tougher or more oppressive for people who are going to be out and about."

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The warmer coastal ocean water is threatening to bleach or kill Florida's coral reefs, and it will likely make tropical storms and hurricanes stronger. And it isn't just Florida. "Global sea surface temperatures have been record high since April and the North Atlantic has been off-the-charts hot since mid-March," AP reports.

This past month has also seen catastrophic flooding in New York, Vermont and Chicago, savage heatwaves in Arizona and Texas, a rare tornado in Delaware, smoky haze from Canadian wildfires blanketing the upper U.S., and the hottest recorded day in modern history.

"A decade ago, any one of these events would have been seen as an aberration," The New York Times notes. Now they are happening simultaneously, thanks largely to human-fueled climate change. "It's not just a figment of your imagination, and it's not because everybody now has a smartphone," Berardelli told the Times. "We are going to see stuff happen this year around Earth that we have not seen in modern history."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.