This Week’s Weather at Walt Disney World – August 16, 2020

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How long will this stormy and sweaty pattern stick around in Central Florida? If you answered: “Through October!” haha, you’re very funny, and partially right. But if you’ve been around Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or anywhere else here in the center of the state, you’ve probably gotten slammed with some big storms in the late evening. Rain has been higher than average for the past week. What’s going on? It’s all to do with sea breezes.

We know that sea breezes meet in the middle of the state and the collision causes storms. Well, some complicated acrobatics take place with the sea breezes every afternoon. A prevailing flow usually dictates if the east coast or west sea breeze is strongest. On those stormy evenings when the rain seems to blossom over Orlando and refuse to move away, that’s because there’s no real guidance from the atmosphere: the east and west sea breeze simply meet in the middle and blow up there.

We started there last week, but then we picked up a southwest flow. Since the second half of last week, a high pressure ridge has been sitting south of Central Florida. The resulting southwest flow ramps up the moisture as well as pushing the storms from west to east. So we’ve had some big afternoon storms, with boundary collisions lingering late into the night. They’ve been making big lightning shows, roughly from the Walt Disney World area to points east. Hail and gusty winds have produced damage in the area, as well.

The storms have eventually crowded over to the east coast, and that trend will continue this week. The southwest flow can be strong enough some days to pin the sea breeze to the Atlantic beaches. When that happens, the storms congregate along the collisions which occur along the east coast, leaving the interior of Florida sweltering with just some brief storms to break up the day.

Midday cumulus lead to afternoon storms!

Whether you prefer a day with quick rain and a return to sunshine and broken clouds, or a wild and wet evening, you’ll usually get both in a single week in Central Florida. One weather pattern rarely sticks around longer than three or four days. The southwest flow is going to be with us through Thursday, but each day will have its own twists on the theme.

Troughing in the Gulf of Mexico, that steadfast Atlantic ridge to our south, and a stormy feature over the southeast will all keep the moisture high in the atmosphere through the coming week. The strength of the daily southwest flow is the only question in each day’s forecast. It’s not whether it will rain in Central Florida, it’s who will get rained on, and who will stay hot?

This week’s weather at Walt Disney World

For the rest of Sunday, the general idea of hot with a chance of storms is good. The southwest flow throws a little wrench into the storm forecast itself, though. Starting early this morning, some showers were already making their way onshore from the Gulf of Mexico. At the same time, there seems little chance of an east coast sea breeze today.

So while storms are probably going to favor the Atlantic coast this afternoon and evening, some scattered storms could flow into the Orlando from the west. Either way, it should dry out in the evening.

Monday through Thursday, the rain chances stay above average with about a 70-80% chance each day. Look for sunny, humid mornings that quickly climb to about 93 degrees before afternoon storms begin to develop in the early afternoon. Nights will be quite warm: around 76 for a low, with a calm wind.

Storms could become numerous in late afternoon, and will likely travel from west to east. As boundary collisions produce more storms, however, their movement can become erratic and surprising, so always be on guard when you notice lightning in the distance. We saw this one night last week when storms hung out nearly stationary near the parks for a few hours, then suddenly billowed onto property just after sunset, bringing heavy rain and very severe lightning.

By Friday, the pattern begins to shift. The Atlantic ridge should finally shift from its position to the south and move into Florida. Friday’s rain chance is still 70%, high for the time of year, but moving into the weekend things should become more seasonal. The southwest flow will subside and the weekend will have a 40-50% chance of an afternoon storm.

Tropical Weather Outlook

There’s suddenly a lot going on in the tropics, although the two named storms currently out there are mostly raining on the fish. Post-Tropical Cyclone Kyle is heading across the Atlantic, and Tropical Storm Josephine is near Puerto Rico but is expected to run into high pressure and get shunted out to sea.

tropical weather 8.16
Two waves are a distant, slight concern. Image courtesy NOAA/NHC

There are two tropical waves well to the south which are being watched for development this week. Both have a formation chance of about 30% in the next five days. Neither is really expected to achieve any development before mid to late week. One or both of these could be topics of conversation next Sunday, but even then they’ll still be very far away from Florida.

Have any weather questions for this week? Let us know in the comments.

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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