Summer-like temperatures on the way
The heat is the result of a high-pressure system situated over the Atlantic Ocean. Called a Bermuda high, the system rotates clockwise, shifting hot, humid air to the Southeast.
"Normally, it sets up more towards the summer," said Dave Loewenthal, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. "We're having southwest winds. They're coming over the land, so the land heats up quickly and the pattern hasn't changed in quite a few days."
The heat is expected to peak on Thursday and Friday with projected highs of 89 degrees – 11 degrees warmer than Wilmington's average high temperature for the first week in May.
But the hot spell doesn't mean that summer has arrived early, according to Loewenthal.
"It's still too early to call that," he said. "We have a cold front that's going to drop into the region Sunday, so we should have a break from the heat Sunday into Monday."
Temperatures will start to decline slightly by Saturday, with a projected high of 85. By Sunday, the high will drop to 81, then to 78 on Monday and Tuesday.
None of the forecasted highs are expected to break records, which top 90 degrees every day in May, according to NWS data.
But the heat may feel more extreme for residents who haven't yet adjusted to summer-like weather, Loewenthal said.
"We're not at that critical heat index yet, but people may not be acclimated to the warm weather," he said. "Even though 87 in the summer would be no big deal, 87 degrees on May 2 may feel a little hotter than you're used to."
Kate Elizabeth Queram: 343-2217 from Star News Online