Sunny days continue! Did you come to Florida in search of sun, sun, and more sun? Well, it’s time for you to live your best life… hopefully with a whole lotta sunblock.
This Week at Walt Disney World: May 26-June 1, 2019
The final week of May brings a persistent pattern of heat, dry air, and relentless sunshine to the Walt Disney World Resort area. All week, our afternoon high temperatures will spike in the middle 90s, with forecasts topping as high as 97 degrees by Tuesday and Wednesday. A steady onshore breeze will provide a little help with those hot afternoons. The evening cool-downs will be modest, with overnights in the 70s.
Towards Friday, there is anticipation that the ridge of high pressure settled over the Southeast will shift, allowing for increased humidity, afternoon rain showers, and, perhaps, the start of Florida’s rainy season.
If you’re wondering if we’re going to break any record temperatures this week, the answer is no. Triple-digits and high nineties already hold the records for the holiday weekend, with Monday’s record high a toasty 100 at Orlando International Airport. It shouldn’t get that hot this week… it’ll just be close.
At the Parks
Like last week, this is perfect water park weather! This is a great opportunity to enjoy a full afternoon of sunshine before the stormy summer weather settles in.
At the theme parks, the afternoon breeze should help you out, but look out for increasingly uncomfortable conditions in mid to late afternoon. Take lots of breaks in air conditioned areas! If you’re used to our typical tropical weather, you might be surprised at how a strong sun and dry air can affect your body.
Another threat which could arise: wood smoke. Although we’ve had a relatively quiet fire season around the parks, the warm, dry, and breezy conditions will be ripe for brush fires to break out. If you’re driving to WDW, fires could affect your route—a 600-acre wildfire near Jacksonville, Florida, closed portions of I-95 last week—as well as impact local air quality. It’s a good idea to have a weather app to check each morning if you have anyone in your party who could be sensitive to poor air quality from smoke in the area.
What’s on the horizon? Florida’s Rainy Season
The first week of June, known as the start of meteorological summer, is the best average date to look for the beginning of central Florida’s rainy season. When the rainy season kicks in, you can expect humid mornings, warm days which hit the 86-89 degree mark with increasing cloudiness, and then afternoon thunderstorms, often popping up very quickly in.a line running north-to-south, which drift east or west towards the coasts. After that, there’s typically a clearing evening with low temperatures in the mid-70s.
Of course, there are variations on this: some days it doesn’t rain at all, some days it rains in a huge circle around you, some days it rains at nine o’clock when you’ve been waiting for fireworks for an hour, some days the rain just sits for hours and won’t budge. But the general idea is the same. It’s warm, it’s humid, and it rains sometime after noon.
What causes this rainy cycle, which lasts from June to October? Central Florida’s unique climate is a twist on the classic Monsoon climate pattern: a season of very hot temperatures, a rise in humidity, and the destabilizing influence of the sea breeze.
Since we have two sea breezes racing inland each day (one from the Gulf of Mexico, and one from the Atlantic Ocean), we have a daily sea breeze collision boundary. That line, usually running roughly north-south to echo the parallels of Florida’s coastlines, is where the two sea breezes clash and storms are born.
If one sea breeze is stronger than the other, the storms will get pushed towards the coast. Generally we have trade-off days: some days, the Gulf breeze pushes storms to the east coast, and some days, the Atlantic breeze pushes storms to the west coast.
But on days where the steering breezes are not so defined, the storms can meander around Central Florida, and even spawn new collision boundaries, creating new storms of their own. On days like this, the radar around Orlando can light up like a Christmas tree for hours.
This weather pattern stays in place, with a few rare exceptions, through October. By then, the waning sun angle and the shorter days aren’t heating up the peninsula with the same enthusiasm as they were during the summer months. Cold fronts, which are too weak to make it into Florida over the summer, grow stronger and start to dive south, bringing dry northern air behind them. The combination of cooler days and invasive dry air chokes off the rainy season, and brings in Florida’s dry season.
When you visit Orlando this summer, you can observe the dynamics and beauty of the rainy season for yourself. You’ll see how we progress from a cloudless sky at 7 a.m., to fluffy white cumulus clouds dotting the sky at 10, to numerous clouds with some vertical climb to them around midday. By mid-afternoon, you’ll often be able to spot the flat crowns of tall cumulonimbus (thunderheads) in the distance… or nearby, maybe heading your way! It’s a daily dance that’s beautiful to watch.
Plus, the more aware you are of what the sky is up to, the less likely you’ll be caught in the queue for an outdoor attraction when it goes down for lightning in the area, soaked by a sudden downpour while walking through a park, or chased out of the pool to run back to your resort room one jump ahead of the raindrops.
Have any questions about the weather? Feel free to leave them in the comments.