Near record heat today

The temperature shot up to a surprisingly toasty 97 this afternoon at Philadelphia International Airport, just missing the record for the date, 98, set last year.

This also marked the 18th of the 24 days of July that the high has reached at least 90, a milestone reached seven times in June, and once in May, for a 2012 total of 26.

The official "normal" value, based on 30-year averages, would be 27 days of 90 or better for an entire year.

The record, 55, set in 2010, would appear to be out of reach, but the robust 34 total of last summer is in play.

Also, the day's heat bumped up the July average to 82.2, just 0.2 degrees shy of last July, which was the hottest month on record in Philadelphia.

We're about to get a short-lived comfort break. Dry air is brooming aside those magnificent but rain-less clouds that decorated the sky this afternoon, and tonigh and tomorrow should be quite pleasant.

That's not going to last. Heat and humidity will be back by Thursday, along with those phantom shower chances.