Maryland skipped over spring and went straight to summer-like weather Tuesday, as a "Bermuda high" system more common to June or July created a chance for record-breaking heat on Wednesday.
Temperatures reached 85 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and 89 degrees in downtown Baltimore on Tuesday. That is 20 degrees above normal, and even more of a departure from what has been a chilly spring — March was, on average, colder than December.
The long wait for warmth meant Baltimoreans flocked to the outdoors. For some, though, it was a little bit too much, too soon.
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"It's too hot right now," said Brittany Johnson, a program aide at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, as she waited in a line a dozen people deep at Rita's Italian Ice in Canton. "I think it's going to be a really hot summer."
Temperatures were expected to get even hotter on Wednesday. The National Weather Service was forecasting highs around 90 degrees across the Baltimore region. That could surpass a record of 89 degrees for Wednesday's date, set in 1922.
The hot air was being pumped in from the Gulf of Mexico coast, meteorologists explained. A high-pressure system is parked over the western Atlantic, and air is circulating around it clockwise, sending the warm southern air into the Mid-Atlantic, explained Mike Pigott, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.
The setup of what is known as a Bermuda high is rare in winter, when the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. But it becomes more likely as summer approaches.
"It's not uncommon to see the high set up one or two days and then diminish," Pigott said. This time, the pattern is expected to last until Thursday.
In the meantime, it is bringing the first significant warm-up since the fall. Temperatures measured Tuesday afternoon were the warmest since Sept. 8 at BWI, when the airport hit 89 degrees. While the airport hit 70 degrees once in January and twice in December, there have not been back-to-back days in the 80s since early October.
Tuesday's high at BWI came 4 degrees short of the record of 89 degrees for April 9, set in 1959.
It has only been a year since Baltimore saw summer-like weather arrive a bit early. Last year, meteorological spring was the warmest on record, with an average temperature of about 59 degrees. Meteorological spring spans March through May. April 16 of last year hit 90 degrees at BWI, while two other days that month reached the 80s.
A month ago, though, spring warmth was nowhere to be found. The average temperature last month was just shy of 41 degrees, nearly 2 degrees colder than the average temperature for December.
The change was a bit abrupt for some.
"It's too hot too soon for me," said city resident Jamee Mastoras, who brought her 8-year-old daughter, Panorea, to the Canton Rita's. "I like the seasons."
Temperatures more appropriate for spring could return after a low-pressure system moves into the area and the Bermuda high system moves eastward Thursday night. Forecasters are calling for a chance of thunderstorms, bringing highs back down into the 60s on Friday.