The meteorological summer begins officially Wednesday, but once again it appears that the atmosphere has decided to get the jump on the scientists.

Tuesday’s high, 96 degrees, sent Philly’s schoolkids home early and just missed the record for the date of 97, set in 1991, which was the prelude to a blistering summer.

This marked the third time this year that the temperature reached 90 or better, and if AccuWeather Inc. has it right, we have only 29 to 33 of these to go.

A rather impressive sea breeze is about to rout the heat, and strong storms are possible late Wednesday and Thursday, but for the June 1-to-Aug. 31 meteorological summer season, AccuWeather expects temperatures to average more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, said seasonal forecaster Paul Pastelok.

That’s in sync with other outlooks, including those issued by the government’s Climate Prediction Center, which has wall-to-wall warmth across the country, and the Commodity Weather Group, which serves agricultural and energy interests.

But these days, calling for above-normal warmth in summer in Philly is in a league with predicting that the Phillies are going to lose more close games between now and Aug. 31.

In 16 of the first 21 summers in this millennium, seasonal temperatures have averaged above the 30-year “normals,” a borderline mathematical paradox.

Philadelphia after dark

Warmer nights constitute one of the well-identified symptoms of climate change, and the nighttime warming in Philadelphia has been more exceptional than the daytime heating.

Daily low temperatures this millennium have been on average 2.7 degrees warmer than they were in the 127-year period of record prior. By contrast, the maximums have been 2.2 degrees higher.

» READ MORE: Nighttime warming trend persists

That discrepancy evidently is tied to higher dew points and humidity that would track well with increases in the planet’s temperature: Warmer air can accommodate more moisture.

Pastelok said he expects that imbalance to continue in the summer of 2022.

Fortunately, all this increased warmth hasn’t resulted in more heat-related deaths in the city.

» READ MORE: Heat has been on, but heat-related deaths are down

In the last 10 years the city Public Health Department has reported fewer than 95 heat-related fatalities, compared with 399 in the 10-year period that began in 1993.

The city has earned accolades for its heat-wave response system; however, Philadelphia also has not experienced repeats of the punitive, deadly heat waves of the 1990s.

What can go wrong

Seasonal forecasting remains a work in progress, and its practitioners hold that summer can be particularly challenging as the temperature contrasts that drive the movement of weather systems weaken.

The trends of recent years are among the most useful clues for what’s to come, but butterflies are forever flapping their wings in the nonlinear chaotic system of the atmosphere.

» READ MORE: Consensus forecast calls for another active hurricane season

One summer wild card is the tropical storm. Hurricane remnants can produce prodigious inland rains, as they did last year, wetting the soils and depressing temperatures.

This year the consensus forecasts are calling for quite an active hurricane season — which also begins Wednesday — primed by cool waters in the tropical Pacific that can depress west-to-east upper-air winds that shear apart incipient storms.

The climate center said Tuesday that conditions in the Caribbean or the southern Gulf of Mexico could favor tropical-storm development in “early to mid-June.” Of note: June marks the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Agnes, one of the most destructive in Pennsylvania’s history.

Change coming

In the short term, a backward-moving front, traveling from the northeast to the southwest and importing ocean air will cool things off, said Eric Hoeflich, a meteorologist at the Mount Holly National Weather Service Office.

High temperatures in Philly on Wednesday will be about 10 degrees lower than Tuesday’s, and won’t get much above 80 into the weekend. At the Shore, it might not get out of the 60s on Wednesday, thanks to that sea breeze.

» READ MORE: For one day, Philly residents will take to sweltering streets to measure heat and pollution

As for the return of the heat, “it doesn’t really look like it the next week or so,” said Hoeflich.

For now, Pastelok said he’s staying with his hot-summer outlook. “I’m always a person trying to find what’s going to go wrong,” he said Tuesday. “Nothing stuck out to me yet.”