After a taste of fall last week, hot sun has returned to Central Florida — along with a few showers and the return of the love bugs. As we head into October, what’s next in weather at Walt Disney World? And why is all the grass brown? Let’s take a look.
Last week’s weather was so straightforward, it’s hard for me to keep the days straight. Sunny, partly cloudy, fair, high around 91. Humidity: low, although it began to rise through the end of the week. Rain: almost non-existent until Saturday, when some light showers passed through.
Really the only thing that changed throughout the week was the breeze, which shifted with some high pressure ridges. But when the air is this dry, the breeze becomes less noticeable — not like in, say, July, when a breeze is the only thing standing between your continued existence or simply dissolving into the tropical soup we Floridians call summer air.
And next week doesn’t look much different from the previous one. High around 90 during the day, not terribly humid, a decent breeze most days, a slight chance of a rain shower. The nights cool only into the mid 70s, but with the dip in humidity, you’ll actually notice it’s cooler out, making for lovely walks around the parks after sunset.
Of course, all these blue skies and lightning-free afternoons by the pool come with a price. North Florida is in a drought and Central Florida may not be far beyond. Orlando has recorded less than two inches of rain for September — the normal is closer to six inches. And while these numbers are often inflated by a tropical system dumping a few inches of rain, the facts remain: rainy season ended a solid month earlier than average.
What does that leave us with? Brown grass, for one thing. Florida grass hates being dry. That’s why sprinklers are such a constant thing here. Allergens are everywhere: everyone is sneezing, or has a headache, or both. Pond levels are dropping and as flooded woods dry out, animals will be on the move, so watch for wildlife like alligators, raccoons, deer or even snakes crossing roads, especially at night.
Plus, there’s also a fire danger. Smoke is usually the biggest issue for vacationers, but bear in mind that it’s very easy to start fires in Central Florida, and not quite as easy to put them out. Dry grass and a fire-dependent ecosystem means a dropped cigarette from a passing car can set the road shoulder ablaze and send flames running towards trees which actively want to catch on fire in just minutes. Once again, that’s why sprinklers are such a thing: the woods behind Magic Kingdom are soaked with water every afternoon to prep for the evening fireworks.
Is the dry air in for the long haul? It certainly appears so. Hurricane Dorian’s pass by the area over Labor Day weekend pulled dry air down from the north, enhancing a high pressure ridge over the area which suppressed the chances of rain. Humberto flew by a week later and doubled down on the dry air. The persistent ridging then stuck around with nothing to dislodge it. That will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.
What could make it rain again? The best chance for a rain event that moves the needle in central Florida would be a tropical weather system.
Tropical Weather Update
Last week, the tropical weather outlook was busy. This week? One major hurricane, and it’s moving the other direction. Hurricane Lorenzo became the strongest hurricane on record to travel this far north and east in the Atlantic basin when its winds topped 155 miles per hour on Saturday. Headed northeast across the open Atlantic, this storm is expected to affect the Azores, an archipelago well to the west of Europe, and possibly the British Isles later in the week.
The Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic waters are otherwise quiet, with no areas of interest being tracked by the National Hurricane Center.
October can be a stealthy month for tropical systems, though, and even if this week appears quiet, it’s important to keep an eye on the tropical weather outlook through the rest of the month. Florida kind of owns the record for October landfalling storms, so it’s our month to shine… or something like that. But regardless of track, October has brought some serious hurricanes in recent years: Sandy, Matthew, Michael, and Wilma all come to mind. On these dry, sunny days it can be difficult to remember that we’re still in hurricane season—it’s the time of year when all of the seasons that aren’t summer start to run together. Don’t worry. If you need to remember, I’ll remind you!