- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Phoenix is flirting with another day of record winter heat amid a run of unseasonably warm weather that even is bringing rattlesnakes out of hibernation early.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 90 degrees for Wednesday in what would be the earliest the temperature reached that milestone. The previous mark was set on Feb. 24, 1986, and the hottest Feb. 17 on record in Phoenix is 88 degrees.

Tuesday’s high topped out at 87 degrees, which still broke the previous record of 84 set in 2014. Meteorologists say the records go back to 1895.

The normal temperature for this time of year in Phoenix is 71 degrees.

The surge in temperatures has awakened rattlesnakes during a time they are typically in hibernation.

Authorities are responding to snake calls much earlier than usual because the recent run of 80-degree temperatures. The Northwest Fire District outside Tucson started getting calls in the last two weeks from panicked residents about rattlers in their yards and patios, something they don’t usually see until late March and early April.

“Generally speaking, when you get into those 80s is when they come out,” Capt. Brian Keeley said. “We’re not overwhelmed with calls, but we have started to receive them.”

The fire agency responds to snake calls when they are reported in danger areas such as garages, houses, enclosed backyards, playgrounds and preschools. Firefighters grab the slithering reptiles behind their heads with a 4-foot pole, place them in a metal box and return the snakes to the desert.

Keeley urges people to be vigilant for snakes by doing things like wearing closed-toe shoes when they go into their yards to take out their trash. He also recommends carrying a flashlight. “These things are waking up and they are coming out,” he said.

The temperatures seem to be here to stay although the weather in Phoenix is expected to cool off on Thursday to the low 80s.

Phoenix also posted record highs last week as an unusually strong high-pressure system lingered over the metro area.

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