Pack the jackets and the sunblock if you’re visiting Central Florida this week! It’s another roller coaster of temperatures for Walt Disney World, as we draw closer to Christmas and deeper into Florida’s wild winter weather.
Last week saw high temperatures in the 80s with sunny skies before a series of disturbances — everything from a low pressure system over the Gulf of Mexico to a warm front to a cold front — brought gray skies, rainy days, and even severe thunderstorms. We finished out the week on the chilly side with a brisk Saturday night dipping into the 50s. But at least it was beautiful! The clouds quickly cleared after a swift-moving storm system associated with a cold front blew through early Saturday morning with thunder, lightning, torrential rains and strong winds. In north Florida, by the way, this same system spawned some weak tornadoes!
That’s all in a week’s worth for Florida in the winter. If you were looking at local reports and wondering if it’s been wetter than normal, the answer is not really. This is the dry season because our afternoon thunderstorm pattern isn’t in operation, not because rain is unusual. However, we can go long periods without rain in the dry season if the jet stream doesn’t push cold fronts south into Florida.
This Week’s Weather at Walt Disney World
Are you ready for a little bit of everything?
Sunday starts with a high pressure ridge over Florida. That means blue skies, dry conditions, and light winds for us. Expect a cool start and finish to a warm day with a high temperature around 75. Overnight, the dry air lets us sink down to the upper 50s for lows.
The pleasant weather from this high pressure center sticks around through Monday, though the wind will begin to switch around as the ridge pushes east. Southeast breezes bring warmer air into the picture, and the high on Monday climbs up to 82. Were you looking for a pool day on your trip? This is it. Even the evening will be pleasant, slowly dropping through the 70s for an overnight low of 65 degrees.
Tuesday begins warm, but things are going to change before the day is out. A high of 85 precedes a growing chance of afternoon showers and storms. Our next cold front is knocking on the door, and it’s a strong one. While we can’t say yet if there will be a strong line of storms with this cold front, or just showers ahead of the arrival of cool air, the temperatures are going to take a hit. Tuesday night has a 50 percent chance of showers, as the low sinks to the mid 50s.
Wednesday’s wake-up call will be the cold north wind! With the front clearing and showers dissipating, the temperatures will struggle to get to a high around 62 degrees on Wednesday. The north wind will be blowing noticeably at about 10 miles per hour, so you’re going to feel the drop. Overnight gets downright cold, with a low of 44 degrees. Even if you weren’t cold in the sunny afternoon, you’ll want something heavier for dinner plans, Disney Springs, or evening fireworks.
Thursday morning is the coldest one for the week, and the north wind will still be nipping along briskly, but at least the afternoon climbs up to the upper 60s. Friday gets even warmer, with a high of 70 as the wind finally changes around to the east. But Friday night another cold front threatens, bringing a chance of evening showers and clouds which linger into Saturday.
Fall Foliage around Central Florida
While we don’t have a lot of fall colors here, you’ll notice some foliage changes now that cool nights are regular and we’ve had a few solidly cold weeks. The bald cypress which grow in big dome-shaped clusters — most noticeably around Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside, and in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground — lose their needles and have a unique, wild beauty this time of year. Their name actually comes from their tendency to lose their leaves early in the season, but they seemed to have left it a little late this year.
Meanwhile the more ornamental dwarf cypress, which are planted around water features at Disney Springs and throughout the parks and resorts, have turned a lovely shade of orange.
Central Florida is home to a staggering variety of birds wintering for the season, and if you look closely you’ll see lots of berry varieties in the landscaping. The berries keep our local birds and our winter visitors full all season long. Most are bright enough to catch your eye. Holly trees will have their clusters of red berries, and the fuchsia-colored beauty berries cluster in thick bunches on bright green shrubs.
In wild areas like the wooded section along the Boardwalk-Hollywood Studios walkway, you’ll see plenty of wildflowers which are happy to bloom all winter! In fact, there are so many flowering trees, wildflowers and seeding grasses through winter that some people find their allergies are actually worse in winter than summer so… pack for that, too.