August in Walt Disney World: one way or another, you’re getting soaked!
This past week in Central Florida has been one of extremes. Extreme heat: we had a Heat Advisory issued on Saturday. Extreme rain: multiple rounds of thunderstorms struck the parks on a few days this week, putting to bed our usual one-and-done storm style. Extreme quiet in the tropics: with no named storms since July 14, we tiptoe closer to a record-quiet four weeks of Hurricane Season.
What has been influencing Walt Disney World weather, and what’s coming next? And what can we expect from the rest of hurricane season?
A wet week around Central Florida
Deep moisture in the atmosphere has been consistent throughout the week. A westerly surface flow has also been in place, pushing early morning storms onshore along the west coast. This early start has given us some midday showers which push through quickly, leaving humid, hot, sunny conditions in their wake. Frequently we’ve seen either a line form west, near Interstate 75, and push through early, only to be followed by a second line in its wake.
We’ve also had a few afternoons with storm development taking place directly over the WDW area, causing torrential rains as weak steering currents let storms sit stationary overhead.
This led to some sidewalk and street flooding around the parks. This localized flooding is just the result of overwhelmed storm drains and usually the area recovers within twenty minutes or so, but it can make getting around flooded areas of the park pretty problematic. It’s also cause for some long waits in areas that don’t have much shelter. (I’m looking at you, outpost in a galaxy far, far away.) When the rain doesn’t let up, it’s almost impossible not to give up and just head out into the downpour. Maybe save something in the souvenir t-shirt budget for this exact predicament?
What’s coming this week in weather at Walt Disney World
More of the same? Probably. A high pressure ridge aloft stretches from Texas all the way across our region. With that ridge in place, our south/southwest flow will continue to bring tropical air across the warm west coast land, popping up storms as they reach our area. Late in the week, a trough could break up that ridge and possibly bring more organized rain to the area.
Look for rain chances of about 50% each day, meaning about half of Central Florida should see some rain during the day. Walt Disney World Resort’s position in the west-central half of the region, sitting just above the I-4 corridor, will be a prime location for storms to develop and strengthen as they move in from the west.
Late in the week, a stalled frontal boundary could fall into the area from north Florida, and this could amplify rain chances even more for next weekend. At the moment, expect at least scattered afternoon storms in the region every day this week, with a strong chance that they’ll affect the resort area directly.
These slow-moving storms will produce heavy rainfall. This time of year, expect the kind of rain that soaks you through in under a minute. Expect the kind of rain you hear coming from around the corner, slamming on the sidewalks like an approaching parade.
Some advice for your park days: if the sky suddenly gets cloudy and the wind begins blowing, don’t look up and say: “hmm, might rain.” Look around you and say: “time to go inside, right now!” This rain doesn’t start with a drizzle. It starts with a downpour.
As the sultry wind continues to blow in from the bathwater-warm Gulf of Mexico, temperatures are going to remain high and humidity is going to remain oppressive. The early part of the week is expected to be hotter, with highs in the mid-90s and heat index readings of 102-107. By midweek, temperatures will slip back into the lower 90s… a little bit of a break!
Remember, the hottest part of the day is really mid to late afternoon if the sun is out! Five o’clock with sun shining can be rougher than noon. At night, temperatures will only drop into the high seventies, and humidity will still make it feel like the 80s.
Despite the oppressive humidity, mornings are always going to be your best choice for theme parks. This time of year, it’s not about how comfortable the weather will be. It’s about how much of the weather you can deal with.
Tropical Weather Update
Two apparently opposing stats pop up this week in tropical weather. First, as long as nothing completely unexpected happens, the north Atlantic will clock in just the third July 15-August 15 period with no named storms in twenty years. This is a significant stat if only because August is the typical beginning of our peak hurricane season. Right now, the Atlantic basin is quiet. The Caribbean is quiet. The Gulf of Mexico is quiet. It’s all quiet and it’s expected to stay that way through at least Thursday.
And yet, something is expected to change before the end of this season. This week, The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) boosted its forecast hurricane numbers for the remainder of 2019. They’re now saying we should expect five to nine hurricanes as we enter the peak period of mid-August to late October.
Their reasoning? The end of another El Nino cycle, the Pacific Ocean phenomenon which has massive influence on our atmospheric conditions. El Nino’s presence usually produces wind shear at key levels where hurricanes need room to grow. Without that wind shear, storms will be able to develop, and flourish, in the warm waters of the Atlantic.
So going forward from this week, the tropical weather update might get a little more vital to your vacation planning. For now, though, everything is still smooth sailing.
As long as you don’t mind rain!