Depending on the time of year that you visit the State of Florida you can expect to encounter several different weather conditions during your time there, with some of them even all occurring in the one day. Now these weather conditions range from unbearable heat and humidity to afternoon thunderstorms and torrential downpours to full blown hurricanes. So I thought that I would share a couple of my tips for dealing with each of the aforementioned and variable weather conditions as well as a couple of facts and figures to help you prepare for your Floridian vacation. If you're anything like me then you will probably have most of your holiday planned to a tee so why not take into consideration what the weather will be like whilst you're there.
Having visited the Orlando area over ten times now and experiencing every weather condition imaginable whilst staying there, I should be more than equipped to give you some idea as to what to expect and how to deal with each of the weather conditions without letting them affect your plans, so here they are.
Know What To Expect
My first tip, which applies regardless of the time of year that you visit, is to keep yourself up to date with the weather whilst you're there. Unlike over here in the UK where the weather 'predictions' are more often than not completely wrong, the Americans and in particular the Floridians are spot on with their weather reports. Taking a couple of minutes in the morning to watch The Weather Channel or any of the weather reports on the morning news shows can save a lot of stress and inconvenience later in the day. And when I say stress and inconvenience what I mean is, the last thing you want is to be caught completely off guard by the weather.
Every morning before we left the villa we would make a point of watching the weather reports so we knew exactly what to expect for the day. This meant that we could come up with a plan as to where we would be visiting that day or alternatively spend the day by the pool. There are some days, particularly in the rainy season where you can almost set your watch by the afternoon thunderstorms, so you can at least prepare to be indoors or near to some shelter at that time. You can also download a plethora of apps to give you an up to the minute account of what's happening weather wise. It's weirdly interesting to watch as a storm front passes over the State or County.
But now onto the weather conditions themselves and some of my tips for preparing yourself for them.
Heat, humidity and sunshine
When you think of Florida, even if you've not been before, I have a feeling that one of the first things that will spring to mind will be the sunshine, heat and humidity. And in a way these can be pretty easy to prepare for. Much like any sunny climate, there are some fail safe ways of keeping yourself safe. First; keep hydrated.
TOP TIP: FREEZE BOTTLES OF WATER TO KEEP THEM COOL THE WHOLE DAY: If you have access to a freezer whilst you're there then stick a couple of bottles of water in there overnight. Then when you get ready to leave the next morning, regardless of where you're going, grab your bottle from the freezer and it will be frozen solid. As the minutes and hours progress the ice will melt gradually to leave you with an ice-cold drink in the hot Floridian heat.
Then make sure to pack or purchase enough sun protection to last you the trip. And again, this is pretty much common sense thinking but make sure to reapply throughout the day too. If you're in and out of the pool, at a water park or get caught in a rain shower, make sure to replenish your sun protection. If you're fair skinned or not a huge fan of the beating sun then keep out of it when it's at it's hottest point. This is typically midday, with early to mid afternoon during the Summer months being the hottest and most humid part of the day. However, this is typically followed by our next topic, which provides a bit of relief.
Torrential rain and thunderstormsYou'll find that Florida's rainy season lasts from the month of May until around November and in these months you will experience almost daily thunderstorms and torrential rain. As I mentioned above, during these months you can almost set your watch by the daily thunderstorm but do not worry as it only typically lasts for an hour or two. Right after the hottest and most humid part of the day the skies will darken, heavy thunderclouds will roll in and you will experience rain and storms unlike any other. And I feel like I can say this, especially as I live in an area of the world where the weather is a constant bone of contention. During these thunderstorms it won't just be heavy, heavy rain that you experience but you will also experience some of the loudest thunder that you've ever heard and lightning that honestly stuns you. If you get a chance to, have a good look out your window and you will witness some of the most breathtaking lightning strikes to be seen. But again, don't worry, after the storm passes the puddles will evaporate before your very eyes and leave you with a lovely Floridian evening.
TOP TIP: TAKE A RAIN BREAK: If you visit during the rainy season, which most of us will probably do, I would expect at least some form of rain or storm during each day and the best way to deal with this is to budget this time into your day. This could mean planning to eat lunch at that point each day or heading back to the hotel or villa for a well needed afternoon nap. That way you won't feel like the rain is ruining your day. Consequently, if you're at one of the parks during a rainstorm then head for the area where the most indoor rides or attractions are.
HurricanesNow hurricane season tends to occur between the months of June and November, with the peak months being late August/early September and having ridden out a few hurricanes over the years I know just how disruptive it can be. But there are a couple of simple ways to stay safe and informed if a hurricane happens to occur during your stay.
TOP TIP: LISTEN OUT FOR WEATHER WARNINGS: There will be umpteen updates given throughout the day by a whole host of sources. From the government to the weather and National Hurricane centers, it's best to stay aware of what's happening and where. When driving, which admittedly we spent a lot of our time doing, the normal broadcast will be interrupted to give you a precise and up to date weather warning and a klaxon will sound. The same will happen if you're watching the television. The amount of times that I've just been sitting there glued to some trashy American reality show when a weather warning has appeared on the screen.
Fortunately for us, whilst we've been there the hurricanes have been ones which have not required evacuation and instead it was just a case of battening down the hatches and riding it out. I do remember one year though when the hurricane badly hit a neighbouring County and destroyed homes, uprooted trees and downed power lines but thankfully the worst of it has passed when it hit our County. It's well worth noting where the safest room, in the house or villa in our case, is. In most cases this is a room without any windows typically located in the centre of the house or villa.
Pack or buy smart
I really could do an entire post on this subject (let me know if that's something of interest to anyone?) but there are a few items that you can bring with you or buy for a few dollars, normally at Wal Mart, which will help prepare you for the changes in the weather. Here are a list of my must-have items.
A LIGHTWEIGHT WATERPROOF JACKET: Instead of getting caught out and having to fork out for what is essentially a glorified piece of plastic, aka. a poncho, why not bring your own pack-a-parka or lightweight rain mac with you. I bought an incredibly lightweight pack-a-parka from Primark last year for around the £6-8 mark and it takes up basically no room in my suitcase. Then when I got there I threw it in the boot of the car, or the trunk for my American readers, which meant that I had it to hand wherever we went. It was also compact enough to fit in my handbag.
WATER: My biggest tip here is not to buy water for extortionate prices at the parks but instead to bulk-buy and a bottle or several with you. For my little freezer trick above, what we do is buy a large multi-pack of water, again normally from Wal Mart and that way it's really inexpensive and keeps us going for a while. You can also get free water almost everywhere. Most of the places you will be visiting as a tourist will have water fountains and dispensers to keep you hydrated and you can also fill up your empty bottle(s) too.
So there you have it, my Floridian weather tips. I certainly don't mean to scare or put anyone off visiting by highlighting these conditions and instead hope to give you some ideas as to how to stay safe and informed.
Have you ever experienced any of these weather conditions in Florida? If so, how did you deal with it? And do you have any tips that you would like to add?