You can almost always tip your hat to the end of another perfect day in Florida. The climate has always been Florida’s most important natural resources, which is reflected in its official nickname, the “Sunshine State.”
Summers throughout the state are long, warm, and fairly humid. Winters are mild with periodic invasions of cool to occasionally cold air. Coastal areas in all sections of Florida average slightly warmer temperatures in winter and cooler ones in summer.
The primary factors affecting the state’s climate are latitude and numerous inland lakes. Proximity to the currents of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico also plays an important role.
Although southern Florida is 400 miles closer to the tropics than northern Florida, it doesn’t feel like it because of the prevailing sea breeze. Southern Florida is one of the warmest places on the United States mainland in winter.
Summers are often hot, but the high temperatures are tempered by frequent afternoon or early evening thunderstorms. Thunderstorms occur, on the average, about half of the summer days. Often these thunderstorms trigger a rapid drop of 10- to 20-degrees in temperature, resulting in comfortable weather for the remainder of the day.
The highest recorded temperature was 109 degrees at Monticello, in Florida’s Panhandle, on June 29, 1931. The lowest recorded temperature was 2 degrees below zero at Tallahassee on February 13, 1899.
Click links for average temperature and precipitation by month:
Miami from About.com’s Miami Guide, Renee Chapple
West Palm Beach
Lightning Is Serious Risk
Welcome to Florida and welcome to the lightning capital of the United States. Lightning strikes in Central Florida this time of year more often than anywhere else and is the most deadly. Although it kills only about ten percent of its victims, those that survive are often left with lifelong severe medical problems.
In 2000, lightning was blamed for death and injury in Florida. Four people were injured outside a golf course clubhouse in Citrus County, one teenager was struck while surfing in the Atlantic Ocean, and it is believed that lightning killed a boater and injured his fishing companion in Old Tampa Bay. So far this year lightning has been blamed for many wildfires, many resulting in loss of personal property.
Let’s take a closer look at this force of nature and your knowledge of it by taking this simple true or false quiz.
The rubber tires on a car can protect you. False. It’s the metal framework of the car that dissipates the force of the lightning. The tires have nothing to do with it. As long as you don’t touch any part connected to the vehicle’s frame, a hard top car, bus, truck or van is safer than being outside.
The average lightning bolt is only one inch in diameter. True. That one inch bolt can carry as much as 100 million-plus volts and pack heat to 50,000-degrees Fahrenheit — that is three times hotter than the surface of the sun.
Lightning never strikes the same spot twice. False. Although not in Florida, the Empire State Building in New York City is hit an average of 25 times per year.
If you get struck by lightning, you will die. False. Lightning kills about 100 people and injures another 500 in the United States each year. Actually, only 10 percent of people struck by lightning die, however, most survivors do suffer lifelong severe medical problems such as memory loss, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, sleep dysfunction, attention deficit and irritability.
A storm must be directly overhead to be dangerous. False. Lightning is unpredictable. It can strike up to 25 miles away from its parent storm. It can literally strike “out of the blue”.
Even if you got all the above questions right, do you know what to do to keep yourself safe in a thunderstorm? Do you know where NOT to be when lightning looms? In Central Florida one thunderstorm can generate a thousand or more lightning strikes an hour. Don’t be blase. Learn how to protect yourself. Follow the tips below. . . and stay safe!
More about our Weather
The weather is Florida’s biggest asset next to the sand and surf. In short we have milder winter weather than anywhere else in the 48 states…think about that next time you look at your heating bill!
Also we have almost zero air pollution. (Winds from the Oceans disperse the air pollutants) You can see the stars at night.
Acid rain has not affected us like the rest of the country.
The temperature drop from day to night is on average never over 25°—compare that with Minnesota, which can vary as much as an 84°.
Average max temps in the Florida Panhandle range from 80° to a low of 56°
Average max temps in Central Fl range from 84° to a low of 60°
Average max temps in Southern Fl, range from 86° to a low of 66°
With the exception of Hawaii, no other state extends further into the tropics than Florida. Key West for example is on the same 24° 30N, that Tampico Mexico and Sao Paulo Brazil are. This makes the angle of the sun higher or more perpendicular hence more warm weather.
To see average January temperatures across the United States go to http://www.mapsofworld.com/usa/thematic-maps/usa-temprature-january.html
Compare where you live or want to live in Florida. For more specific info, look at the area you are interested in and go to the weather page.
So what about the rainy season and humidity?
We are a tropical climate, so our rainy season comes in the summer. Generally it will rain hard for a half hour then subside. It does get humid then. Although not as bad as you’d think. Our water breezes really help cool us off.
And, finally, hurricanes…..we have to talk about this, and you, our reader, have to think about it. Florida lies in the tropics, or more exactly, pretty close to the tropics. Much of the American Southeast is at risk for hurricanes, from Texas to the Carolina coasts, year in, year out. But in the popular imagination, Florida is the bullseye.
So what’s the reality, and what is the relevance? The reality is, yes, it’s true; we are in the bull’s eye. And the relevance? A zillion people continue to relocate to Florida. Why? Because, perhaps like you, they feel (rightly) that the percentages favor them, that they are not likely to encounter a hurricane. Really. In the grand scheme of things, not many hurricanes make landfall in Florida. So their confidence is reasonable.
Anyway, before hurricanes do threaten Florida, there is plenty of warning; and except for people who live directly on the beaches (dangerous), you can prepare and defend pretty successfully in almost all cases. When the Authorities say you must evacuate (chiefly from the beaches and adjacent areas), you should. If you live in the Keys, that’s always critical, at an earlier stage, say, than the rest of Florida’s east or west or north coasts, because you’re very close to the action no matter where you live in the Keys. So there’s less time for error.
I experienced a Category 3 major hurricane in the Keys. In the future I would evacuate. Every hurricane season in the Keys, you worry (Jimmy Buffet even wrote a song about sitting around waiting for hurricanes that never materialized). The first serious hurricane in fifty years was Georges in 1998 (my experience). But there have been lots of worries, lots of close calls, and like this year (2005) a fair number of combinations of tropical storm force winds, higher tides with some flooding, and salt-blown browning of the vegetation. So the reality is, you live in the Keys, you worry about it.
The other part of Florida that seems uniquely vulnerable, especially in the aftermath of recent northern Gulf of Mexico history, is Florida’s Panhandle. It’s important to put this in perspective. Yes, Pensacola and its wider area have tended over the past 30 years to be hit more frequently than the rest of Florida by major hurricanes, but in the 30-40 years prior to that, the situation was exactly reversed: Pensacola was less frequently hit than peninsular Florida. Or to put it a different way, the Panhandle area of Florida has been “hit” by just 6 storms Category 3 or higher since 1940, while peninsular Florida suffered 10 such storms during that same period.
The dangers can be largely counted on fingers. Hurricane Donna hit southwest Florida in 1960, Hurricane Charlie I about the same area in 2004.
Hurricane Andrew hit Miami-Homestead in 1992, but you have to go back to the 1920’s for anything comparable.
I moved to Melbourne Florida (central east coast) partly because the area NEVER got hurricanes (and in fact the whole northeast and central Florida coast is in a geographical bight that in fact does not get hit, but Melbourne is on the cusp, a bit south). My first year (2004) living there, the Central East Coast got two of them. So much for expectations. Still, the likelihood of that happening again remains very low. Moreover, if you lived inland just a few miles that summer of 2004, because of the buffer of the long barrier island and the wide ICW/Indian River Lagoon, the net effects of the hurricanes were pretty mild.
In any case, the likelihood per the historical record of that happening again remains very low. The reality is that the weather on both Florida’s east and west coast is great, and you really don’t have to worry yourself through hurricane season, like folks perhaps do in some other parts of Florida (the Keys, the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico).
Bottom line? I would be remiss if I did not tell you that hurricanes are a potential fact of life. But what I’ve outlined above underscores the reality that the very occasional occurrence is the exception, absolutely not the summertime rule.
More about Hurricanes and Observations..
If you live on the coast you stand the greatest chance of having one affect you. Some areas of Florida have gone fifty years plus without one but you never know.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is buy a home that was built after Andrew-August 92 that was built to stricter building codes. Have window protection and a backup generator and make sure your insurance is up to date. If they ask you to leave, do it!
Realize-If you live in an older home that was not built up to the stricter building codes (After Hurricane Andrew-August 1992) or you live in a mobile home you stand the best chance of having major structural damage.
Living on the beach in a mobile home is asking for it. Although, you may never have a problem, you’re still definitely taking your chances. Barrier islands and open-water Ocean or Gulf front are the most prone to damage.
Having lived in California, I prefer the threat of a hurricane however as opposed to an earthquake. At least you have a warning.
For current information about hurricanes go to http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
For 2005 climate info by areas go to http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/climate_center/LCD/2005LCD.html
For current weather forecasts by cities go to http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/fl/fl.html
*Living in a waterfront home typically means that you will pay a higher Insurance premium. The insurance is higher due to flood and wind concerns.
Part of this is also because the pricing on these homes is higher so there is more value to insure against.
*Despite four hurricanes in 2004, the number of Florida visitors rose 7% to an all-time high of 79.8 million last year and is on target to hit 80 million this year.
Having said all this, I can’t imagine living elsewhere. It is really great to wake up and it’s sunny out.
We spend over half our lives indoors…so when you do go outside, wouldn’t it be nice if it was warm and sunny?