The Sunshine State: Weather and Climate
Nicknamed the ‘Sunshine State’, Florida on the whole is generally a very sunny and warm place. Temperatures peak around mid to late summer with anything above or just below 90 °F – cooler months being October to March – but still a modest 70 °F is often experienced throughout their winter months! Short, but heavy frequent showers accompanied often by thunder are often experienced throughout the year in Florida, but mainly between May and September months… so be sure to take your ponchos out with you to see that parade at Walt Disney World!
Appealing to all Disney fans, this weather ensures everyone gets a deserving holiday with most days giving beautiful sunny, warm weather for walking around Disney World or the Epcot Centre. But, as most frequent holiday makers or residents of Florida know, the state is not short of its severe weather either, not to mention hurricanes.
Hurricane season for the USA runs from July through to November and Florida, along with the Gulf of Mexico regions and other southern North American areas are on alert for tropical storms which form out in the ocean and may become hurricanes that possibly could move towards land and threaten life and property. Hurricanes are enormous storms that rotate showing a clear ‘eye’ in the centre on satellite pictures. The eye is completely calm and still, but just surrounding the eye – the ‘eyewall’ is where the weather is at its most severe. Do not mistake hurricanes with tornadoes, although hurricanes can and do produce tornadoes. A hurricane’s main threats are severe winds and torrential rain. Even if a hurricane or tropical storm does not actually hit land head on, it still poses a threat from storm surge where huge waves from the sea flood the land (such as Hurricane Katrina).
Just this August, Tropical Storm Fay threatened parts of North Florida. As the airmass over the gulf was unstable and very moist, this moisture was sustaining the energy in this storm - feeding it – the lakes, surrounding air masses from the Ocean and Gulf play a huge role in producing Florida’s weather. Moisture is one of the main ingredients for a storm’s formation and sustainability. Sadly, by the 23 August 2008, several people had already lost their lives from flood waters from torrential rainstorms in Florida. The Florida Hurricane Center is an excellent resource to go to if you are planning a holiday and you wish to keep an eye on the developments: http://flhurricane.com/ But don’t be put off – remember the peak time for hurricanes and also remember that you are more likely to suffer from heat stroke and dehydration than suffer from the problems of a hurricane – they are just something to be aware of. If one threatens your area whilst you are there, watch and listen to the Weather Channel and listen to advice from your hotel staff who will be prepared and knowledgeable about such events.
Not only appealing to Disney fanatics, but also for storm chasers – and not just for hurricanes! I suspect quite a lot of people who visit Florida often, particularly coastal areas such as Key West and Tampa Bay, will have witnessed waterspouts. These are tornadoes over water and can look absolutely spectacular out over the sea.
If you would like to know more about severe weather/storm chasing or our publication and organisation, feel free to get in touch!
I wish you all, whether you live there or are going on a holiday, a wonderful, fun and safe time in Florida – wherever you may be.
Editor-in-chief/Publishing Director – The International Journal of Meteorology www.ijmet.org