Temperatures flirted with 90 today, making this the warmest start to an April in Philadelphia meterological history and prompting many residents to turn on the air conditioners despite their best efforts to resist.

Concerned about "critical fire weather conditions," the National Weather Service issued a "red flag warning" for eastern Pennsylvania and all of New Jersey.

Scattered brush fires kept the New Jersey Forest Fire Service busy in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, close to the shore. No injuries or damage to property were immediately reported.

Tuesday's official high, 87 at Philadelphia International Airport, tied a record set in 1929 and matched in 1942. It was also the hottest day since Aug. 26.

Today's high of 89.1 degrees at 3 p.m. fell just short of the  record of 90, also set in 1929.

While it should be be a perfect beach day, ocean temperatures in the 40s will keep most folks out the water.

Assuming the forecast works out, the average temperature for the first seven days of the month will come in around 65 degrees. The current standard for the first week in April is 61.3, set in the aforementioned 1929.

The normal high for April 7 is 59, according to the National Weather Service.

All the warmth is the result of bone-dry high pressure to the south that is promoting warm winds from the southwest, said Lee Robertson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly.

The winds are especially dry and warm because they are descending mountain slopes, as opposed to coming off the cool Atlantic Ocean, he added.

Despite all those record rains - not to mention the 6-1/2 feet of snow that fell during the winter - it has been so dry that the weather service has issued fire warnings and watches for this afternoon.

Temperatures will make a run at the mid-80s Thursday, but then the summer party will be over for a while as a front comes through.

"Strong to possibly severe thunderstorms might occur late in the day Thursday or Thursday night," according to the weather service.

Friday will be about 30 degrees cooler than today.

Staff writer Peter Mucha contributed to this article.
Contact staff writer Anthony R. Wood at 610-313-8210 or twood@phillynews.com.