A hurricane wrap-up, a minor heat wave, and changes on the horizon: September at Walt Disney World started out with some wild weather!
In what felt like the longest hurricane scare in history, Hurricane Dorian managed to wreck Labor Day Weekend in Orlando without actually making landfall. The storm influenced some shutdowns in the area, including early park closures at Walt Disney World and Disney Springs. There were tropical storm warnings posted for Orange and Osceola Counties for a period of time, with the potential for sustained tropical storm-force winds considered a possibility for the area.
In the end the Disney area received gusty winds and some rain bands, but the worst of the storm stayed well east as it moved up the Florida east coast. Parks reopened as normal on Wednesday and we had a cloudy, dry day, despite the presence of a hurricane less than a hundred miles away from much of the day!
Hurricanes leave behind dry air in their wake. Any Floridian who has lost their power after a hurricane can tell you what a hot, miserable recovery day this is. And with the heat that Dorian left behind, we should all feel very lucky the Orlando area didn’t have any mass power outages. From Thursday through Sunday, we’ve seen temperatures soar into the mid-90s each day, with heat index readings above 103 degrees. Early morning and late evening humidity has kept temperatures high overnight, while midday dry air and the absence of thunderstorms has given us no relief or even a little shade from passing clouds.
This Week’s Weather at Walt Disney World
A subtropical ridge has been sitting south of Central Florida, and its effects have blocked the sea breezes and kept dry air in place aloft. This is forecast to lift north of Florida during the week. As it begins to move away, we can expect more onshore flow from the Atlantic — slowly raising our rain chances.
It will be a slow process and we won’t be back to normal rain patterns until late in the week. Look for a slight chance of a storm on Monday, then a return of dry air on Tuesday. Rain chances begin to heighten on Wednesday again. On Thursday we should begin to see the effects of a trough of low pressure which will push west across Florida. This will bring increased moisture and rainfall for Friday through the weekend.
One bright spot in this dry forecast: on Tuesday, temperatures are expected to dip back into the mid to upper 80s. The return of an onshore flow from the Atlantic will give us more seasonable temperatures, and believe it or not… it’s supposed to start cooling off just a little from those summertime highs.
The First Night Below 70
Today the National Weather Service pushed out some welcome — and startling — news. The first overnight low below 70 degrees since May was recorded at Orlando International Airport on Saturday morning. Yes, it was only 69 degrees, but that’s a start. The last time the overnight low was below 70 degrees was May 29.
Now, there are no lows in the 60s in this week’s forecast. This one largely came because the humidity was so low overnight on Saturday. But it also speaks to the shortening of the day and the changing sun angle of September. We’re down to twelve hours and about twenty minutes between sunrise and sunset now, down from a high of fourteen hours in late June. Some people argue that Florida has no real seasons, but the slanting light and shorter sunsets tell me that it’s almost fall.
The next big milestone to look forward to? That’s October 15. It’s the average date of our first cold front, which usually brings us a spell of heavy rain followed by a cold, crisp day with dry air, and ushers out the rainy season for another year.
Tropical Weather To Watch
With Hurricane Dorian ancient history (it’s actually causing a lot of trouble in the Maritimes but should be out of Canada’s hair shortly), we can turn our attention back to the wide Atlantic, where two areas of disturbed weather are being watched, and Tropical Storm Gabriella is heading off to nowhere in particular.
Gabriella will bring heavy weather to the U.K. later this week, but there is a persistent cluster of storms around a tropical wave in the far eastern Atlantic. This Cape Verde storm is going to continue moving westward towards the central Atlantic, and forecasters give it a 40% chance of further development into a tropical system in the next five days.
Closer to the Caribbean, there is a another tropical wave which has been hanging around for a few days. It’s being affected by wind shear and so while it’s moving steadily northward of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico, there’s no confidence it will begin to organize into a tropical depression. However, in the next five days it should be somewhere to the east of the Bahamas and could be in a more favorable position for development. That’s a big “could,” though.
Bottom line for this week? It’s going to be a little bit drier than we’ve been accustomed to, and just a little bit cooler as well. But for most people visiting Central Florida, it’s still very much the summer season. Enjoy the sunshine!