This summer is truly testing all of us!
If you were here in June, you felt it: the month of June was hotter than average this year. While Orlando didn’t set any records, one sultry morning tied the record warmest low for that day: it only cooled to 79 degrees overnight. That’s not what anyone wants.
What caused the extra-hot June? We started out that way, with that roasting-hot May that had the temperatures soaring to 98 or more. Then, even though a helpful front stalled across central Florida in mid-June, really revving up our rain machine, a persistent southwest flow was pushing against the east coast sea breeze. This kept most of the storm formation close to east-central Florida.
With that activity going on, we did see some very hot, dry days with big storms staying well to our east and northeast. The temperatures spiked again in the last week of June, with Orlando hitting 98 degrees on June 25—that’s pretty unusual.
So if you’re wondering what all of this bodes for July, I don’t blame you for thinking it’s going to be crazy hot in central Florida. However the good news is, the forecast looks pretty normal, and the atmosphere does too—for a change. Our usual mix of variable breezes in the morning, followed by the sea breeze collision in midday, is back in business—plus there will be some help from a low pressure system later this week.
This week in Walt Disney World weather
This week will bring a daily high around 90 degrees, a good chance (about 60-70%) of afternoon thunderstorms, which clear out in the early evening, and a low around 75 degrees overnight. The humidity will remain high, with extremely moist air in control of the weather. There could be some cloudy days in the mix.
Sea breeze collisions over central Florida could begin earlier than they have been, with storms starting to pop up midday. There might be some isolated showers which move through on their own before the real business starts in the afternoon. It’s just a very wet pattern, so don’t be surprised by any rain shower, at any time of day!
Early in the week, the west coast sea breeze should be the primary driver, causing storms to move from west to east across the peninsula.
Late in the week, forecast models are suggesting that an area of low pressure will develop in the southeast US, drifting to the panhandle of Florida. This is going to increase moisture still more, continuing this very high chance of rain and encouraging it to stick around past sunset each day. You’re probably going to see some speculation about this low pressure system and its potential as a tropical system, but it’s far too early for this kind of chatter. When there’s a story here, you’ll know about it. For now, just expect some extra rain.
Boundary Collision Storms
As that sea breeze is pushing inland now, the storms are going to be more common than in recent days, and they’re going to cover more area—so instead of just a small line of cells moving through, expect larger areas of heavy rain, with new storms developing from boundary collisions. These collisions are a really common way to get an afternoon of torrential rain that seems to just keep coming. It’s also an interesting way you can predict whether a storm will threaten you, just by using your radar app.
Boundary collisions are when two storms, a short distance apart, create a new storm in between them, which might seem to merge on the radar screen into one huge blob. It’s not too complicated: each storm is pushing a lot of cold air down from the upper levels of the atmosphere, producing its own wind front, and when one wind front runs into another one, the collision can create a new storm very rapidly—like an enhanced sea breeze collision.
If you see two storms on radar that are meandering on their own courses, but are going to come close to one another, you can probably expect a boundary collision to produce a new storm in between them. These boundary collision explosions can go from an eddy of wind to a lightning-producing storm in as little as half an hour.
Here’s a hint for predicting rain even when there’s none on the radar: If you’re on the ground and the wind suddenly picks up, but there’s no storm pushing into your area, take a look at your radar app—you might find that a storm ten miles south and a storm five miles north are about to make some atmospheric magic right over your head. Wind doesn’t happen without a reason! It’s telling you something is happening.
An evening of heavy rain in the Orlando area is almost always triggered first by the sea breeze, and then by boundary collisions as the individual storms interact with one another, pushing and shoving and spawning new storms as the heat and moisture in the atmosphere give them plenty of fuel to burn off. This can look really different from the weather front, line of storms image that you might be used to in the northeast or midwest. The behavior is really different, too, with erratic movement. Some storms might be nearly stationary for an hour or two while other storms are moving slowly nearby.
July and August are prime for huge, sprawling complexes of storms which dump impressive amounts of rain (think 1-2 inches per hour) and this will lead to flooding in low-lying areas: think Fantasyland near the carousel, Frontierland, some areas of Epcot. If you’re driving, watch out for deep ponding on the roads, including resort roads. With so much moisture to burn through, the rain can stick around late—well past sunset and even until midnight in some cases.
So, that’s mid and late summer in a nutshell: lots of big storm complexes during periods when we have a lot of deep moisture to play with, and that’s definitely how July is beginning. Will we keep the stormy weather (and the lower temperatures) right through the month? Honestly, I hope so. 98 and sunny with 70% humidity isn’t fit weather to be out in, in my opinion. I’d rather dodge a thunderstorm—even wade through a pond in Fantasyland. Which do you prefer: the sunshine, or the storms?