Is rain back in Central Florida’s forecast? After a couple of dry weeks with just spotty coastal showers making their way as far inland as Walt Disney World, it looks like we might be back in business. But the summertime sea breeze storms are over. We’re in a whole new world (sorry!) of weather patterns.
Surprise! Fall Showers
Did you get wet while waiting for the final showing of IllumiNations? This time of year, coastal showers can show up with a lack of fanfare that really surprises out-of-towners and local guests alike! The clouds are smaller and much lower in height than our towering thunderstorms, the showers are more concentrated in small areas, and they typically last only minutes… but wow, can they pack a lot of rain into those minutes! These showers are more typical of fall and spring weather in central Florida, blowing through in a hurry without so much as a rumble of thunder.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you’ll find smaller, drier clouds give away their lack of rainy intent. Look how flat and stretched-out these fair weather cumulus over Epcot are looking. This photo is from Thursday, October 3… one of the drier days this past week.
This week’s weather at Walt Disney World
Wind, rain, and clouds: oh yes! Florida is getting the squeeze from an inverted trough to our south, and a high pressure ridge to our north. That’s kicking up the breezes even as a frontal boundary off the east coast is allowing some moisture to finally settle into our dry atmosphere.
That means a jump in humidity: up into the 60-70% territory during the day. Daytime heating and humidity is helping some Atlantic showers push inland with more success than they managed last week, so rain chances have gone up through most of the week.
However, the chance of thunder is pretty limited — these showers may continue to bring gusty winds and brief downpours, but the dynamics aloft that let our legendary thunderstorms kick off are pretty weak this time of year. If you’re a lightning bug, this is not the week you capture your great photo of a bolt over Cinderella Castle.
Towards the end of the week, an area of high pressure is expected to drift our way, bringing drier air as moisture levels in the mid levels of the atmosphere taper off. It’s looking like Columbus Day weekend will be another sunny autumn weekend in Central Florida.
Expect daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 80s all week long, with lows in the 70s during the first part of the week, then dropping into the 60s later in the week as the humidity lets up and dry air takes control once more.
Rain chances will be highest through Wednesday, with showers flowing in from the Atlantic each day and about a 50% chance of your particular piece of ground seeing rain on any of these days.
Tropical weather outlook
October is typically a strong month for hurricane development, particularly for Florida interests, but this week the National Hurricane Center is tracking two areas of interest in the North Atlantic, far from the usual tropical development zones.
One is well out to sea, between Bermuda and the Azores, but is expected to slowly develop into a tropical or subtropical depression as it drifts westwards. There’s a fifty percent chance of tropical depression formation over the next five days.
The other area of formation is less likely and doesn’t affect Florida, as it’s a non-tropical low which may develop off the Carolina coast later in the week. This system is expected to drift northward off the east coast of the U.S. and could develop some subtropical characteristics, like a closed center of circulation.
What’s the chance we’ll still see some tropical development in the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico, or the nearshore Atlantic? The clock is definitely running down — historically, only ten percent of a year’s hurricane activity takes place after October 20th. As we are looking towards October 10th with nothing but these two Atlantic outliers on the horizon, it’s possible that the hurricane season is coming to an unceremonious early end (much like the Florida rainy season did).
One reason for October’s quiet waters: Hurricane Lorenzo. This massive, record-breaking storm mostly rained on the fishes before it rocketed up to Ireland. But it left a lasting impact on the waves in its wake: cool water. Hurricanes pull heat from the surface of the water, and leave a cold trail behind them. Lorenzo’s wake reached all the way across the Atlantic to the shores of Florida and the Carolinas for more than a week, leaving a chilling effect in place that would freeze out any future storms.
While the Atlantic Ocean may look like it’s shut down for the season, there is one remaining threat to Florida’s sanity over the next few weeks—the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. These locally-grown storms are more common threats in late hurricane season—like Hurricane Michael, the catastrophic Category 5 storm which hit the Florida panhandle last year.
These storms can be spun up by an atmospheric feature called the Central American Gyre. Michael was developed out of a Central American Gyre; so was 2017’s deadly and costly Hurricane Nate. The gyre is a swirl in the atmosphere which occurs over or near Central America, stirring up rain and trouble. Should one spin up between now and November, we could find ourselves with a new area of tropical development.