Florida has a climate that ranges from a humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in its north and central parts to tropical (Köppen climate classification Aw) in the south. The state has the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Alabama and Georgia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Straits of Florida to the south. Florida has the longest coastline and is the southernmost contiguous state of all American states. Most of the state is at sea level - low elevation, low latitude, and proximity to vast bodies of water significantly influence the climate.
Florida, the sunshine state, is the warmest of all American states with an average daily temperature of 70.7°F (21.5°C) and 2800 hours of sunlight over the year. Average high temperatures in July are in the 90°F (32.2°C) to 95°F (35°C) range, while average low temperatures in January are in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 45°F (7.2°C) range in the northern part and 60°F (15.6°C) to 65°F (18.3°C) range in the southern part of the state. The ocean acts as a temperature regulator due to which high temperatures rarely touch 100°F (37.8°C) and low temperatures seldom go below freezing in the north and rarely in south Florida. Snowfall is rare in the south and meager in the north during winter, but frost is common, while the fog is regular in all parts of the state.
The wet season lasts from May to October as Florida records the highest rainfall of all American states. Annual precipitation is to the tune of 55" (1397mm), a majority of which occurs in summer and early autumn. Thunderstorms with rain are prevalent during the summer, especially in the afternoons. Florida is the lightning capital of the United States with the highest number of lightning strikes in the country. Hurricanes and tornadoes pose a regular threat from June to November due to proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the absence of natural barriers such as hills and mountain ranges.
The dry season from November to April is sometimes very severe, although early winter sometimes sees light rainfall due to the passage of storms from the north. The Gulf Stream keeps temperatures warm up to a few miles inland from the coast throughout the year - in fact, Florida has the warmest ocean waters in the United States thanks to the tropical ocean current. African dust outbreaks during summer affect the air quality of the state, which has the cleanest air quality of all American states.
The best time to visit Florida
The best time to visit Florida is during spring from March to Mid-May when the weather is pleasant with temperatures relatively milder than the peak summer and clear skies. The average sea temperature in the 70°F (21.1°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range makes it refreshing for swimming and surfing. Though the temperatures are not extreme in summer, it is a good idea to avoid it due to the arrival of the wet season and increased probability of thunderstorms and hurricanes. Sometimes the hurricane season stretches until December, which makes it a little dicey to visit Florida in winter compared to the brilliant spring weather.
The worst time to visit Florida
August to October is the worst time to visit Florida during the wet season that lasts from May to October. Thunderstorms and hurricanes pose a threat to the usually pristine weather, particularly from August to October. Afternoon storms are frequent from late spring to early fall with lightning and heavy rain. Hail often accompanies the storms that produce two-thirds of the annual precipitation of the state. Rain and stormy conditions can sometimes last until December in an odd year. The hurricane season seldom passes without a single storm that affects Florida.
Florida is vulnerable to thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes in summer and autumn. The wet season from May to October produces a majority of the rainfall but is also prone to storms and other hazards. Lightning strikes in Florida far outnumber any other state in the United States, and it leads all the other states in the number of tornadoes per area. June to October is the official hurricane season with greater vulnerability from August to October. Florida is the most hurricane-prone state in America due to its latitudes and lengthy coastline and witnesses the highest number of category 4 or higher storms among all the states.
Weather in January
January is the coldest month of the year in Florida with the northern and panhandle areas such as Madison and Niceville around the freezing 35°F (1.7°C) to 37°F (2.8°C) average low-temperature range. Daytime high temperatures in the north are in the comfortable 62°F (16.7°C) to 70°F (21.1°C), while the south has warmer temperatures in the 68°F (20°C) to 76°F (24.4°C) range. El Nino winters tend to have cloudy skies and cooler temperatures. The dry season does not attract much rain with an average of 1" (25.4mm) to 1.5" (38.1mm)" in most parts of the state. Plenty of sunshine adorns January days, especially in the south such as Miami and the Everglades - Miami and Palm Beach are year-round destinations and find much traction with tourists even in January when the humidity reaches approximately 75%. Light clothing is usually sufficient in the day but keep a few layers of clothes for the night and take precautions against the sun rays, particularly during middays along the beaches.
Weather in February
February is a winter month in the dry season of Florida with the average low temperatures in the mild to cold 40°F (4.4°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) zone and the average high temperatures in the warm 65°F (18.3°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range across different areas of the state. Tallahassee, the capital of the state, which lies in the Florida Panhandle, sees average temperatures in the 42°F (5.6°C) to 68°F (20°C) range. While Jacksonville is within 45°F (7.2°C) to 68°F (20°C) range in the north, Disneyland in Orlando is much warmer with 52°F (11.1°C) to 74°F (23.3°C). An average of 8 hours of sunshine usually adorns the state in February with slightly more humidity in the south. Snowfall is scarce even in the peak of winter except for a few areas up in the northern part of the state. Be cautious during the early morning commute as early morning fog is prevalent in many areas up north with the incidence of sleet and frost during the passage of cold fronts.
Weather in March
March is a dry month that begins the spring season in Florida. Rain is in meager quantities, and the warmth increases with the advent of spring. Mangroves dominate the coast going southward from Cocoa Beach, while salt-water marshes rule them going up north. Spring is the season of the flowering of the mangrove species and many varieties of wildflowers. Tourists flock to the state as the temperatures are in a wonderful 50°F (10°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) average range. Pensacola, in the northernmost part of Gulf of Mexico, has seawater temperatures in the 66°F (18.9°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) that is good enough for swimming and other beach activities. The central and southern beaches neighboring Tampa and Miami are warmer than the north and offer the visitors a myriad of activities and beautiful weather. Spring is a great time to be in Florida with warm temperatures and little threat from storms and hurricanes - no need of warm clothes, raincoats or umbrellas, enjoy the tropical waters in the lap of nature!
Weather in April
April is one of the best times to be in Florida as spring spreads its aroma and touch across the land. Few places in the continental United States match the perfect weather conditions on so large an area and provide access to such a long coastline as Florida. Most of the state sees average temperatures in the warm 55°F (12.8°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range. Seawater temperatures at Fernandina Beach along the northeast Atlantic coast are at a wonderful 72°F (22.2°C). Breezes during the afternoon along the Atlantic coast make the waters of these beaches as one of the best for sailing and surfing similar to those of Hawaii. Humidity is in the 70% to 75% range with partly cloudy skies on many beaches, so drink and carry plenty of water. Lastly, carry sun protection as the sun is usually intense along the tropical latitudes, and it shines for more than 8 hours a day.
Weather in May
May is a transitional month from the dry to wet season. Sunny days abound with rain in between, to average 4" (101.6mm) across different regions of the state. Day highs range from 80°F (26.7°C) to 90°F (32.2°C) in the Everglades in the south, while lows in Jasper in the north are between 60°F (15.6°C) and 65°F (18.3°C). The end of spring increases the relative humidity to 75% with an increase in the incidence of thunderstorms, particularly in the afternoons. Florida is never short of sunshine, and May is no exception as the sun breaks through the cloud cover repeatedly. Rain marks its presence over the state as Ft. Lauderdale in the south accumulates 6.2" (157.5mm) during the month. The end of spring brings more heat and stickiness in the air that culminates in a moderate amount of rain. People enjoy Florida visits in May as the beaches are less crowded compared to the summer and the conditions a little milder!
Weather in June
June is summer in Florida and the wet season is in full force. Across the state, average high temperatures are between 88°F (31.1°C) and 90°F (32.2°C) whereas humidity crosses 75% but is a touch short of 80%. Rain sees a pickup everywhere with an average of 7" (177.8mm) across the state. Most of the state sees roughly 20 sunny days in June despite the rainy and cloudy conditions. Summer sees a swell in tourist numbers, but there are numerous beaches along the length and breadth of the state to accommodate all of them. Late morning and afternoon sea breezes regulate temperatures - the sea acts as a giant thermostat that does not allow the temperatures to cross extremes. It is a good idea to include early mornings in the holiday plans, as the temperatures are a bit mild with most of the rain falling in the second half of the day. Watch out for thunderstorms in late afternoons and evenings and do not take weather warnings casually as Florida is the lightning capital of the United States!
Weather in July
July is the hottest month of the year in Florida with average high temperatures of 90°F (32.2°C) to 92°F (33.3°C). Temperatures seldom cross 95°F (35°C) and rarely go beyond 100°F (37.8°C) in any part of the state with the southern part a few degrees warmer compared to the north. July also tends to be the wettest month with an average of 8" (203.2mm) of rain. The south is usually a little rainier than the other parts due to the peninsular geography - Hialeah registers 11.5" (292.1mm) and is one of wettest places in Florida. Sunshine abounds plenty in July with 22 sunny days, but the summer is prone to tropical cyclones along with the usual quota of thunderstorms. It is generally not a good idea to visit Florida during July, especially for the beaches and water activities due to the expected harsher conditions. However, Disneyland in Orlando can be a holiday savior for families who can ally with the weather for a limited window for beach activities.
Weather in August
August lies during the summer and has average high temperatures slightly below the 90°F (32.2°C) mark over the state. It is generally wet with 6" (152.4mm) of rain across the state, but more significantly, it is prone to hurricanes and tornadoes. La Nina summers produce dry summers, are susceptible to wildfires, and an increase in hurricane activity. Florida is one of the most vulnerable states concerning tropical storms, and there is seldom a year in which the storms do not impact the state. The Florida Panhandle area is a little cooler compared to the south as nights in DeFuniak Springs drop to a comfortable 70°F (21.1°C) in August. Try to avoid the open beaches in the south as the intensity and number of storms often grow during summer and early fall season that will rule out afternoons and evenings on the beaches. One important thing is to be cautious concerning electronic gadgets, as lightning strikes are frequent - stick to the general guidelines, while operating them during stormy weather!
Weather in September
September starts the autumn season that sees the average high temperatures drop to the 83°F (28.3°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range. Rain does not fall short of expectations and is to the tune of 7" (177.8mm), but a majority of it falls during the passing of storms. Tampa, between 75°F (23.9°C) to 89°F (31.7°C) and West Palm Beach between 75°F (23.9°C) to 89°F (31.7°C) may look quite attractive but September is the peak of the hurricane season, and looks can be deceiving. The fall season in Florida is different from that in the northeast such as New England where it exhibits spectacular fall foliage - comparatively, the majority of Florida flora consists of mangroves, coconuts, and palms along the long coastlines, though state parks in the north comprise of a variety of trees and wildflowers. Temperatures are remarkably uniform, within a few degrees, across the state and different seasons do not produce extreme changes in weather conditions, except for variations due to storms and cold fronts.
Weather in October
October lies during the autumn in Florida and is the end of the wet season. By the end of the month, the number of storms reduces substantially, although a few hurricanes may stretch beyond the season. Average high temperatures drop in the 80°F (26.7°C) to 82°F (27.8°C), while the average low temperatures are in the 60°F (15.6°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) across the state. The sunshine lasts up to 7 hours a day, there is no shortage of sunny days, although the cloud cover and rain is substantial to the tune of an average of 5" (127mm) across the state. Nights are colder than the days as Crestview in the Florida Panhandle registers one of the lowest average temperatures of 54°F (12.2°C). It is advisable to avoid Florida in October as better times in the dry season lie ahead - it is prudent to wait for the end of the hurricane season as nature and intensity of the ocean waves due to the impact of the storms is highly unpredictable.
Weather in November
November ends the autumn and starts the transition to the dry season in Florida. Most of the state sees average high temperatures ranging from 75°F (23.9°C) to 78°F (25.6°C). Most of the storm activity ceases by November, and the weather is pleasant with mild temperatures, drop in humidity levels and rainfall. The rain subsides to average 3" (76.2mm) across the state as the sun breaks the cloud cover for a majority of the time. The sunshine permeates the waters of the Florida Reef, the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States with seawater temperatures of 75°F (23.9°C) that make November holidays quite enjoyable. Though the temperatures are mild, keep in mind that the tropical sun of Florida emits dangerous ultraviolet rays even in the mild fall season and be armed with sun protection - drink plenty of water. Overall, keep an eye on stormy weather forecasts before making plans to visit the wonderful beaches and divine waters of Florida!
Weather in December
December is a winter month in Florida, which has the mildest winters in the continental United States. The average high temperatures are from 62°F (16.7°C) to 65°F (18.3°C) in the Florida Panhandle, while the average low temperatures are between 40°F (4.4°C) and 45°F (7.2°C). The northern parts are a little cooler than the central and southern regions with a temperature difference up to 8°F (-13.3°C) to 10°F (-12.2°C). Tropical easterly winds keep the central and south much warmer - Key West, the southern tip of Florida is a great place to visit in December with mild temperatures in 62°F (16.7°C) to 76°F (24.4°C) zone. Occasional cold fronts move from the north that spread up to the central part of the state but lose intensity to go further south. Snowfall is rare in the north with the south almost devoid of it. Storms can stretch until December - it is a good idea to keep an eye on the weather; nights are usually warmer in the south and do not necessitate warm winter clothing on regular days. [Resources]
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