It’s Christmas Week in Orlando, and as anyone who has ever celebrated the holidays in Central Florida can tell you: anything can happen! Christmas has a fun history, weather-wise: Orlando on December 25 has basked in a high of 86, shivered through a low of 36, and hoped for the normal high of 71. The record rainfall for Christmas Day? A nice toe-dipping 3.53 inches.
Well, after a fairly eventful weather pattern last week, with plenty of clouds, storms, gusty winds, and some chilly nights, we all deserve a nice holiday week at Walt Disney World. After all, Christmas crowds are one thing when it’s sunny, and another entirely when everyone is running away from a downpour. Not everyone in Fantasyland can fit under the awning of Philharmagic… although we’ve certainly seen some pretty good attempts over the years. What’s on the way? A big change, actually. Maybe even… a nice change?
This Week in Walt Disney World Weather
For the rest of Sunday, rain is the order. Clouds and passing rain showers, some heavy, will continue over Central Florida throughout the day.
Will there be storms? It’s possible. The low pressure system causing all of this rainfall has an associated warm front which started Sunday just north of the Walt Disney World resort area. Staying south of the warm front line puts our area in the warm sector of air, giving us wind shear aloft, which could give rise to storms. However, there is a distinct lack of instability in the atmosphere. Without much in the way of daytime heating, strong to severe thunderstorms will not have a lot of instability to work with.
However, according to the Storm Prediction Center, there is a “Marginal” chance of severe storms late Sunday afternoon and evening. These storms could include torrential rain, lightning, gusty winds, and the low potential for tornadoes.
Last weekend one of these lukewarm storm predictions did pan out with an EF-1 tornado touching down and tracking over land in Flagler County, about an hour northeast of Orlando. A house lost its roof and there was some additional structural damage. There was also quite a lot of tree damage and some power outages in the neighborhoods just north of Walt Disney World, although the severe storm cells missed the resort directly. The moral here is to pay close attention to weather warnings, and get inside a secure building away from windows if you get a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning.
Reminder: a storm watch means there is the potential for a storm. A storm warning means one is being tracked in your immediate area. Warnings within your vicinity will typically trigger a smartphone alert.
After the initial threat of severe weather passes, Sunday’s overnight weather looks like additional heavy rain, with or without strong storms, is a certainty. There will be a lingering threat of severe storms which dissipates overnight as the warm front dips south of Central Florida. Temperatures will stick to the mid 70s throughout the day and sink into the low 60s overnight, with occasionally gusty winds.
Monday clears very gradually… perhaps not until late afternoon, as residual clouds and showers continue in the wake of the departing low pressure system. Expect the temperature to stay steady around 67 degrees all day long. When the sun peaks out, heating could provoke new surprise showers! By evening, things should settle down to a partly cloudy evening, with an overnight low of 53 degrees.
Tuesday is Christmas Eve, and also the first day of our drying off period! A beautiful holiday week is trying to get underway. With a ridge of high pressure building across the south from west to east, the air is going to feel noticeably drier Tuesday and the sun will be out to start sopping up puddles. Enjoy a sunny day with cool temperatures: the high will be around 67, with a northwest wind of 5 to 10 miles per hour — that’s enough for a shiver on the water — and an overnight low of 59.
Wednesday is the Christmas present you’ve been waiting for. A sunny day, with a high around 77 degrees and a northeast breeze. Yes, that’s right, it’s going to be essentially room temperature on Christmas Day. With sunshine. There’s a slight chance of a rain shower near the coast thanks to that northeast, onshore flow, but it’s unlikely any rain would make it as far inland as the theme parks. The night will be equally pleasant, with a low around 63 degrees.
Throughout the rest of the week, a ridge pressing a northeast breeze will be in control of the central Florida skies. Expect daily highs in the upper 70s, overnight lows in the low 60s, and plenty of sunshine. There will be the off chance of passing clouds and showers from the Atlantic flow, but that isn’t expected to be a strong influence this far inland.
What’s Coming in January
January can be a very up-and-down kind of month in Florida. Cold fronts are only going to get more powerful as winter deepens, and their potential to bring truly frigid air into the Florida peninsula grows stronger as January wears on. It’s not out of the question for a big mass of cold air to settle over the southeast, Florida included, which keeps our high temperatures below fifty degrees (or lower, but we don’t want to think about that) for several days to a week.
The Dry Season Forecast from the National Weather Service is issued in two components, November – January and February – April. As we’re still in the first segment, we’re still looking at above normal temperatures, normal precipitation, and normal storminess. With a neutral El Niño pattern expected to continue throughout the winter, we’ll continue to be affected most by short-range weather patterns — like this weekend’s rapidly developing low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico. This makes seven-day forecasts a stretch, and fourteen-day fairly unreliable.
So when packing for January trips, check in here before loading up your suitcases. If you’re coming for a trip longer than a week, be prepared for every type of weather excluding blizzards — temperatures from the 80s down to the 30s, and weather from sunshine to downpours. If we’ve proven anything so far this dry season, it’s that the very name can be misleading. It’s the Dry Season because our summer monsoonal pattern isn’t in place… but it’s definitely not a guaranteed drought.