This Week in Walt Disney World Weather — November 17, 2019

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All of a sudden, all of those Christmas decorations make a lot of sense!

The holiday season at Walt Disney World is famous for starting while the air conditioning is still working full blast, but we’ve finally gotten our first truly chilly air of the season. If you’re at Walt Disney World this weekend, or anywhere in Central Florida, you’ve definitely been treated to a little taste of winter. And if the only snowfall is still of the snoap variety, well, that’s fine, because most of the locals are already bringing out the heaviest winterwear they own.

How long will the chill last, and how much colder will temperatures get in Florida as we work our way through the holiday season? Let’s dig into this week’s weather at Walt Disney World.

The First Strong Cold Front of the Season

A hint of blue on a cold, cloudy Saturday at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
A hint of blue on a cold, cloudy Saturday at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.

While we missed the average arrival of our first true cold front by a week or two, this weekend certainly made up for lost time. The arrival of chilly rains and a steadily dropping temperature on Friday gave Florida a gray, northern feel. Saturday started hopefully, with some clouds and sun, but the northwest wind in control brought us cloud cover and dropping temperatures, sinking from a high of 60 early in the day, towards 57 and lower before sunset. The overnight chill in the middle 40s marks the lowest temperatures since April this year.

Over the coming week we’ll see dry air in control of Florida weather, maintaining a generally cooler climate than we’ve recently experienced, little to no chance of rain, and a yo-yo of sun and clouds.

Sunday, the dry northwest air pouring in will eventually push our clouds away, and as the sun comes out in the afternoon, the temperatures will rebound — perhaps as high as the lower 70s. Overnight, expect lows in the upper 40s to low 50s. Definitely still jacket weather if you’re out and about!

Weather will stay dry and cool through Tuesday morning, with highs both days around 70, and low temperatures around 50 degrees overnight.

By Tuesday night a trough of low pressure will be lifting northeast away from Florida, allowing high pressure to build over the peninsula. We’ll be enjoying dry air, sunny skies, cool winds from the northwest, and high temperatures in the lower to mid 70s. The dry air sticks around through Wednesday.

Thursday the humidity begins to rise, as winds shift to onshore from the Atlantic Ocean. Occasional cloud cover might join us, along with highs reaching the upper 70s, but we’re still not looking for rain chances. Friday, the high might hit a whopping 80 degrees. Every night you can still expect the temperature to drop to a chilly low in the 50s.

All in all, the week ahead looks dry, mostly sunny, and a little cooler than the seasonal average. Could it be your perfect vacation week at Walt Disney World? If you’re not here for the swimming and sunbathing, definitely. Just remember to pack your hoodies and sweatshirts for those cool nights waiting for the fireworks, particularly when the dew point rises later in the week. Florida’s damp, maritime air has a way of getting under a person’s skin, particularly when that person is sitting on damp, cold concrete for an hour or two.

Tropical Weather Outlook

A small potential for tropical development! Courtesy: NOAA
A small potential for tropical development! Courtesy: NOAA

I thought we’d retired this segment until May or June, but surprise! There’s something on the chart this week. However, this anticipated area of low pressure, which is expected to develop northeast of the Leeward Islands, will eventually get caught up with a frontal system later in the week. So whether it actually develops into a storm or not is somewhat academic. No tropical systems pose any threat to the U.S. at this time.

Central Florida’s Dry Season Forecast

Despite getting quite a lot of rain lately, we’ve entered the Central Florida dry season, which will last through May or June of 2020. During this period, daily thunderstorms are no longer a threat. Instead, we will see most of our rain associated with cold fronts—the way most regions experience rain—or in coastal showers blowing in from the Atlantic onshore flow. The mid-afternoon thunderstorm pattern is a wet season phenomenon, lasting from June to October. You can read more about Central Florida’s unique summer weather pattern, called the diurnal tropical monsoon climate, at this post.

The National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida, predicts that we’ll have above-average temperatures, near-normal average rainfall, and near-normal storminess during the November-January segment of the dry season. This is based on the El Niño/La Niña state of the equatorial Pacific Ocean, which is currently neutral.

dry season 2019
Courtesy: National Weather Service, Melbourne, FL

What does this really mean? Because there is no huge determining factor from El Niño or La Niña in the strength and pattern of low pressure systems, our weather pattern this fall will be mostly dominated by short-range weather patterns — more local weather patterns, so to speak, than big continental ones. This makes long-range weather forecasts tougher to pin down. Florida weather is also affected by a number of other large weather patterns, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation, but El Niño and La Niña tend to have a strong influence on the position of the North American jet stream — which dictates the flow of air, and cold fronts, over the continent.

However, with the trend for above-average temperatures extending back several years now, we can be pretty confident that we’ll generally have seasonally high temperatures. When we’re affected by strong cold fronts, we’ll run the risk for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, as well as freezing temperatures on the other side of the passing front.

As for packing for your trips, you’ll want to pay closer attention to short-range forecasts — three to five days out — rather than seven, ten, and especially fourteen-day forecasts. Coming for a long trip? Pack it all! Just to be safe.

Natalie Reinert

One of those Florida locals who can usually tell you if it's going to rain by the sun angle and the feel of the air, I'm an avid weather fan and a certified weather spotter for the National Weather Service's SkyWarn program. I tweet about Central Florida weather at @WeatheratWDW. As I work for Walt Disney World, please note all of my views are my own, and do not represent the views of The Walt Disney Company. All information shared in my posts comes from publicly available sources.

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