Thursday, December 08, 2005

Florida Weather

Florida 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°.
Some statistics:
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
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
For 2005 climate info by areas go to
For current weather forecasts by cities go to

*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?

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