Florida Weather Information on the Web
(Forecast: Hot and wet, hot and dry, warm and sticky, warm, then wet.)

 

Florida has some of the coolest weather in the world. If you live here you already know that. If not, go to the bottom of this page for a quick description of our weather. Here are the weather resources I like to use to keep tabs on the weather around here.



NOTE: Hurricane- and tropical storm-specific information is on my Hurricane page. Things you can use at any time of the year are generally listed only on this page, even if they are also of benefit during hurricane season. For maximum benefit, use them both!


CURRENT WEATHER WARNINGS AND STATEMENTS




CURRENT WEATHER IMAGERY

DOPPLER RADAR

In Precipitation mode, shows rain/snow intensity. In Clear Air mode, shows any detectable airborne phenomena including rain, smoke, fog, dust, insects, temperature inversions, seabreeze and outflow boundaries, etc. The non-NWS sites have varying types of features but are often quite good.

RADAR SUMMARIES

Shows cloud heights, directions and ground speed. Also shows watch areas and any severe features:

 TVS, HOOK = Possible tornado
 MESO = Possibly severe t-storm
 HAIL = Probable hail
 Blue box = Severe t-storm watch area
 Red box = Tornado watch area

WIND VELOCITIES

Shows wind velocities in storms relative to the radar site. Red areas show winds blowing towards the site, green areas show winds blowing away from the site, gray areas show winds that are neither. A line through the site with red on one side and greens on the other is normal. Reds & greens touching within a small area indicates rotation and possibly a tornado.

NWS via Intellicast
(Updated every 30 minutes)

Melbourne   Tampa   Jax
Miami   Keys   Tallahassee
Panama City   Mobile AL

NWS via Intellicast
(Updated every 60 minutes)

Melbourne   Tampa   Jax
Miami   Keys   Tallahassee
Panama City   Mobile AL

NWS via Intellicast
(Updated every 30 minutes)

Melbourne   Tampa   Jax
Miami   Keys   Tallahassee
Panama City   Mobile AL

Other Sites
(Often updated every few minutes)

WFTV Ch. 9 (Orlando)
WESH Ch. 2 (Orlando)
WFLA Ch. 8 (Tampa)

  • Central Florida Lightning Striker
    Plot of current lightning strike data anywhere within 300 miles of Tampa (includes the entire Florida peninsula.) Good way to see active thunderstorm activity.
  • Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI) Homepage
    Current satellite pictures of significant events (hurricanes, fires, floods, volcanos, plagues...) visible from space. Look under the Current section for the latest stuff they're keeping an eye on. You may have to guess at the most appropriate filenames to look at, however. The images are a bit slow to transfer, but are extremely detailed and of a much higher resolution than you usually see, and during severe weather events are quite informative.



GENERAL INFO SITES

  • Weather Channel
    OK but not necessarily the most complete. May be busiest (i.e. slowest) site of them all due to traffic.
  • USA Today's Weather Site
    Lots of info and links, in the typical concise USA Today style.



FLORIDA WEATHER IN A NUTSHELL

  • Florida has two seasons: it's hot and rainy 85% of the time, otherwise it's cool and dry.

  • Meteorological summertime in Florida runs from early May to November or December. In the peak months we average from 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise it's in the lower to mid 80's.

  • Summertime in Florida is characterized by many widespread (but scattered) thunderstorms every afternoon, usually appearing like clockwork after 3PM. These can sometimes become severe, with very heavy rain, downbursts, small hail, and small tornadoes which almost never exceed F2 in strength. The storms and showers usually dissipate by mid evening.

  • Coastal areas are the coolest places to live, temperature wise. They usually get a strong seabreeze in the summer which extends many miles inland, cooling things off up to ten degrees. The seabreeze front is the point where the seabreeze stops blowing inland and the air rises to return to sea, and forms a line parallel to the coast anywhere from a few miles inland to halfway across the state. The front usually progresses farther inland during the day as the afternoon heat increases the seabreeze. This line, or inland from it, is where most summer thunderstorms start to form.

  • In late October or November, a cold front or two usually plunges us down into the 70's.

  • By Christmastime, we often have highs in the mid 60's to upper 70's for extended periods, but often take down the tree in 80 degree weather. The winter is generally mild, with an occasional light frost and maybe - just maybe - a hard freeze for a night or three sometime in January.

  • Once a decade or so, there might be an inch or two of snow in the northern parts of the state. Snow has fallen as far south as Miami - but just a few flakes.

  • Every couple of years or so between June and November (hurricane season), a tropical storm or two actually hits Florida. Less frequently, a real hurricane hits. Once or twice in a decade, a major hurricane comes, with a "huge" storm (category 5) occuring every 20-30 years or so.

  • About 25% of the annual rainfall for the Southeast US comes from tropical storm systems. This rain is necessary to replenish the aquifer for use during the dry winter months.

  • Minor tropical systems pass over Florida several times each year. The majority of these only produce minor damage relating to heavy rain, severe thunderstorms, and beach erosion. While major hurricanes are much less common than lesser storms, they create unique problems such as large storm surges.

  • Springtime weather in Florida is very volatile, and often turns very dangerous very quickly - often during the nighttime hours. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and severe squall lines associated with cold fronts (usually coming from the northwest or west) are quite common from late February to early May, and typically cause significant damage and some deaths each year.

  • The area from Tampa to Orlando has more tornadoes per capita than anywhere else in the world. The majority of Florida's tornadoes occur in the springtime, although they do happen throughout the year due to the regular thunderstorms in summer.

  • Unlike the infamous Midwestern twisters that can cart off battleships, Florida tornadoes very rarely exceed F2 in strength, usually they are F0 or F1. The outbreak of F4 and F5 tornadoes in February 1998 that killed dozens of people in the middle of the night were the first F5 tornadoes seen here in at least 30 years, if not the first ever recorded in Florida.

  • Central and South Florida have a large number of warm-weather waterspouts over coastal waters each spring and (less often) into the summer. They often come from small, harmless looking clouds during otherwise nice weather. These rarely do any damage unless they come ashore as weak (F0) tornadoes. The largest danger is to small boats that may be capsized if caught in one.

  • Central Florida is the lightning capital of the US, and one of the major lightning activity areas in the entire world. More people are killed by lightning in Florida than anywhere else in the world. Most commonly, people die from their own stupidity - such as a failure to leave a golf course or beach during an approaching thunderstorm.

  • The Melbourne NWS station, a typical Central Florida coastal town, was the second location in the country to recieve a WSR-88D Doppler radar unit. This was partly because the weather here is quite variable, partly because there is frequently severe weather, partly to test the unit in a coastal/maritime environment, and partly to support the space program. It was found that detecting and evaluating severe weather required entirely different techniques than used at the first station in the Midwest. This research was used to improve the rest of the WSR-88D network in use nationwide today.

  • Mostly in the colder months, extremely dense fog forms overnight in some places - mostly inland areas. "Sea Smoke" fog along the ocean is rare, but does happen on occasion.

  • Wintertime is Florida's dry season. Most rain comes from storms associated with cold fronts. Brush fires are common until the showers and thunderstorms return in the springtime. The severe El Nino-induced drought that lead to the massive intense wildfires that devastated the state in July 1998 was a rare occurrence that happens only once a century or so. Typically, a few acres burn here and there after lightning strikes or after being intentionally set (legally or otherwise). Normally this does little more than clear off flammable underbrush, which is an essential part of Florida's ecological cycle. The combination of an unusually dry winter with a very unnatural buildup of brush (fuel) over many years (caused by not allowing natural fires to burn) caused the fires of 1998 to become incredibly intense, widespread, and uncontrollable.

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