Well, this week we’ve seen both sides of Central Florida weather. Which did you prefer?
This past week, Walt Disney World Resort was center-stage for some pretty dramatic shifts in the weather pattern. The tropical rains that have been falling for the past two weeks ramped up and finally gave us a big show on Wednesday, with a tornado warning issued for the Magic Kingdom! Then, after a cool, rainy evening, the clouds parted and drifted away, leaving us with hot, dry days of above-normal heat.
It’s always something, isn’t it?
The high pressure ridge currently controlling our weather is sticking around for a few more days. If you’re heading to Walt Disney World early this week, you’ll be dealing with with what the National Weather Service calls “Excessive Heat.” I think a few minutes outside will have you agreeing with that title. The hottest part of the day is 1 – 4 PM, but the oppressive heat can stick around well into the evening, so take care even after sundown.
The strong west winds are helping to pin down the sea breeze near the Atlantic beaches, so there’s not much relief at the coast. Vero Beach hit a high of 97 degrees on Friday, tying a record set ten years ago. In that kind of heat, your Mickey bar is melting pretty fast.
This Week’s Weather
Even with dry air suppressing most of the thunderstorm development, it’s hard to keep a good monsoon season down. For this upcoming week, there will be a chance of isolated to scattered thunderstorms each afternoon, gradually growing in coverage throughout the week. Sunday and Monday will likely be the hottest, driest days, with temperatures around 96 degrees and humid conditions making the day feel ten degrees warmer.
Tuesday-Friday should begin a return to normal, with scattered thunderstorms growing in coverage each afternoon. Remember, the earlier the clouds gather, the sooner the temperature stops climbing! By Friday, the high temperature should be a more seasonable 89 degrees. That’s nearly ten degrees cooler than Sunday’s expected high. And while it doesn’t sound like much, once you’re here, you’ll appreciate the massive difference between 89 and 99.
Every storm, even an isolated cell on a sunny day, has the potential to produce numerous cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, strong winds, heavy rain, and even hail. Listen for thunder, watch for rapidly approaching clouds, and get a weather app with good alerts.
Turning your smartphone into a mobile weather station? It might be overkill in some parts of the country, but not in Florida. Reading the forecast here is simply going to tell you if there’s a very high chance you’re going to get rained on, or just a so-so chance. To actually keep out of the weather, you need a weather app with reliable alerts.
There are dozens of free weather apps on the market, and plenty of paid options, as well. Which ones are best for keeping up with Walt Disney World’s rapidly changing weather?
My favorite free app is Storm Radar. It cuts straight to the radar, without any nonsense about the forecast or current conditions in my way. It’s summer—I know it’s hot. What I want to know is if there is any lightning heading my way before I head over to Magic Kingdom.
Storm Radar gives a lovely radar image that includes several hours of modeling to show what the super weather computers think is going to happen later. This can be a hit-or-miss feature, but I’ve found it often picks up on those late-evening storms that sometimes pop up out of nowhere and surprise everyone. It also gives a good indication of what the day’s storm pattern will be: the direction they’ll be traveling, if they’ll favor the east or west coast, if they’ll hang out in the Orlando area instead. These are all really important factors for your afternoon, especially if you’re contemplating a pool or water park day!
Storm Radar also gives you alerts for lightning and rain, complete with a push to your smart watch if you have one. The lightning alerts are really useful when you’re inside a show building or a restaurant without windows, reminding you to check the radar so you don’t give up your seat or dry spot just to head out into a looming storm.
Plus, you’ll get push notifications for hazardous conditions from the National Weather Service: significant weather advisories, severe thunderstorm warnings, and tornado warnings. You can read them for more context and understand exactly how a storm will affect you.
For example, on Wednesday, most people in southern Orange County received a tornado warning directly to their phone. But did they get to read the warning’s actual text and see that it was a radar-indicated rotation over Magic Kingdom, or did they simply panic, assuming a massive tornado was barreling towards their precise location? Reading the entire weather statement is the difference between taking simple, safe precautions and having a panic attack which can lead to bad decisions.
Storm Radar is my favorite app, but I have several others for different reasons.
Florida Storms is a great app when there is a hurricane or tropical system in the region. This app shows local hurricane statements and graphics in one place so you can keep up with the progress of tropical systems. It also links directly to your area’s public radio station, which will provide evacuation information should it come to that.
News 6 has a good weather app with local alerts and an automatic radar home screen. I like this app’s lightning display. Storm Radar’s lightning display can be a little buggy, so sometimes I’ll use this app for back-up.
Weather Underground is an app I keep for the ridiculous factor. Weather Underground’s numerous hyper-local temperature readings are provided by home weather stations. A lot of people like to look at the “Magic Kingdom” location, thinking it’s a real weather reading with scientific controls and the like. It’s not. It’s a weather kit in someone’s yard and while it doesn’t give out the regular 120+ degree readings like it used to, it’s still not actually the Magic Kingdom or an accurate weather station.
No matter which app you choose to use, be sure to open it when you’re in the area you want warnings for. If you’re at Animal Kingdom, open it at Animal Kingdom. If you then go to Magic Kingdom, open it there. The app’s push notifications and warnings will be affected by your position, and you’re crossing county lines as you move around Walt Disney World, so you need to be sure your location service position is accurate.
Apps: they help keep you dry and ahead of the next storm!
Which is your favorite weather app? Let us know in the comments.