Soaking rains and brilliant sunsets: it must be August at Walt Disney World!
The first of August came and went with a blast of heavy rain, courtesy of a tropical wave we’d been watching since last weekend. There was no chance of development into a tropical depression or storm, as predicted, but all of that moisture still had to fall somewhere. It chose Florida, mostly central and south-central Florida, and we had some rare total wash-out days around Orlando.
Sunday and Monday we really got a taste of the big storms that late July and August like to generate, with huge lightning storms affecting the area. Sunday night the storms moved into Walt Disney World a little before sunset and stuck around until well after nine, delaying IllumiNations and some other shows. This storm dumped torrential rain and showed off some of the most constant, blinding lightning I have seen in several years. Even after it moved away, the light show continued.
More lightning lit up the night on Monday before rain moved into the area from fading storms in the south. Other days had more normal afternoon storms before the tropical moisture showed up on Thursday. Friday was the most significant rainy day, with showers sticking around until well after midnight.
If you took the time to step out into the rainfall on Friday night, though, you were rewarded with a tremendous jewel-colored sunset. Stormy sunsets can be short-lived but incredibly brilliant. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for them.
What’s Coming This Week
This week will start with a southwest flow over Central Florida, which has been a rainmaker for us throughout the summer. Without any outside rainmakers like a tropical low or that odd July cold front we experienced a few weeks ago, we should be back to the regular scattered afternoon showers and storms.
However, that moisture-rich southwest flow from the Bermuda High is going to keep the trends towards 40-50% chances of afternoon storms all week, with high temperatures around 90, low temperatures around 75, and heat indices around 100 degrees.
If you’re just joining us, here’s a reminder about how Florida’s summer storms work. Often, storms pop up midday to early afternoon just a little inland of the coast, when the the east coast sea breeze travels far enough inland to collide with the hot, humid land. Then, later in the day, new storms usually gather over Central Florida, thanks to boundary collisions from the original storms and the collision of the east and west coast sea breeze. Lake breezes can also kick in from large bodies of water, like Lake Toho to our southeast, or Lake Apopka to our north.
They’ll travel across the peninsula according to upper-level steering currents, and usually fall apart after sunset. When there are no real currents in place, these storms can meander or sit in one place, causing flooding rains.
Strong air currents bearing tropical moisture can amplify this basic pattern, starting storms early in the day or helping concentrate rain over certain areas. We’ve been dealing with those currents often this summer.
Tropical Weather Outlook
While there’s nothing tropical in the neighborhood at the moment, there is a single tropical wave east of the Lesser Antilles which has a slight chance of development as it moves northwest towards the Caribbean Sea. The five-day outlook gives it only a 10 percent chance of developing into an organized tropical system, though. There’s nothing tropical to affect your plans at this time!
July Climate Report
It’s always interesting to track the weather for a full month and then look back at the trends to see if your impressions matched the reality. July seemed to start extremely hot and dry, but the end of the month, the rain had really picked up, bringing temperatures closer to the normal 90-92 degree high each day. There were some extremely hot days when the afternoon rain held off or didn’t affect the Walt Disney World area at all, with temperatures climbing closer to 95 degrees. And there was the frontal boundary late in the month which brought us two days of rain and a high only in the mid-80s.
With all those extremes averaged out, Central Florida’s overall temperature for July was a half a degree above normal. Orlando had two ties for record warm low temperatures: 78 on July 4, and 77 on July 16. Orlando had a monthly average temperature of 83.5 degrees, which is 0.8 degrees above normal.
For rainfall, despite the dry start we experienced a tropical low and a frontal boundary to bring us extra rain along with our usual afternoon thunderstorms. A line from just north of Kissimmee to Titusville, along the coast, proved to be the most common zone for storm development each day, with lake breezes, sea breezes and boundary collisions working that southwest flow to generate plenty of showers and storms.
Guess where Walt Disney World is? That’s right, just along that line, although occasionally we find ourselves a little too far northwest to catch the benefit of the Lake Toho lake breeze.
That put our rainfall totals right on average (between seven and twelve inches around the area) while some areas along the coast were a bit drier than average.
We talked last week about August: the hottest and the wettest month of the year for Central Florida. There’s certainly every reason to believe it will be both again this year. We’ve started the month with a tropical wave bringing heavy rains, and are already back on the tropical southwest rain train with the Bermuda High squashed into place over Florida. With more tropical weather expected as the weeks go by, we can expect heat and storms to be the story just about every day of August.
Will this affect your vacation plans for August? What about your costumes for those early Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties? It’s going to be warm out there.