In the U.S. state of Florida, summer is a popular time to visit due to its warm, sunny weather; attractive beaches, plentiful outdoor recreational opportunities, and its theme parks. However, the climate during this period can make travel more complicated, unless your travels are carefully managed.


Florida climates (1991-2020 data)

Florida has multiple climate regions as shown in the graph. However, most of the state's climate variation occurs in winter, when the north takes on features of a continental climate, the center has variable weather, and the south remains tropical. In the summer, all of Florida experiences roughly the same climate — fairly high daytime and nighttime temperatures coinciding with high humidity. While temperatures in the state rarely reach triple digits Fahrenheit at any time of year, the effect of humidity causes temperatures around 30 °C (86 °F) to feel more uncomfortable. As high temperatures hold moisture well, the problem is accentuated as temperatures rise, with the humidity effect forming a sort-of feedback loop with the air becoming increasingly intense into the peak of summer, which is around late August or early September. There are a few ways nature breaks the intense heat: the sea breeze, thunderstorms, and cyclones.

Sea breezeEdit

Air in coastal parts of the state feels far milder than that of inland regions, despite conditions being similar, due to the breeze off the ocean. However, the sea breeze is not consistent, taking place later in the day if at any time. On the beach, it can however make conditions more tolerable, particularly as the Atlantic Ocean maintains a cool temperature relative to air. In general, water sports, be it swimming pools or the ocean, are a way to avoid the worst effects of the sun. Lakes generate breezes, but don't go swim or even go near any lakes due to the widespread presence of alligators — there is virtually no water body in Florida, no matter how small, that is free of these creatures, except the ocean. Alligators have found their way even to man-made lakes in urban areas, and they have been known to drown those who go too close to the water.


Storm clouds in Miami

Thunderstorms are the most common remedy to the heat, occurring on many days throughout the summer. They are the primary cause of Florida's monsoon-like precipitation pattern, with in many places double or triple the rain during the summer months than during the winter months, causing a monsoon effect. Thunderstorms typically accompany rain in Florida. A common trend in summer is increased humidity around the middle of the day, followed by the buildup of storm clouds in the early afternoon, followed by small and scattered, but intense thunderstorms across the peninsula throughout the afternoon and evening hours. When approaching, typically from the southwest, you first see a black cloud emerge from the horizon, a strong indicator to return to your car or a building if outdoors. This is followed by a dramatic darkening of the sky, which can be almost complete during the most severe storms. Winds pick up to gale level for a few minutes, sometimes traveling in the direction opposite to the storm, before heavy rain and lightning begin and the winds decrease to zero. The heavy rain, over the course of anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, subsides while the thunderstorm passes to the northeast. There is a chance that, by late evening, the sun will once again appear through the clouds and begin the evaporation process in preparation for another humid day. However, immediately following the storm and during cloud cover, temperatures can drop, and the air can even become cool on occasion, before the reappearance of the sun immediately returns temperatures to summer levels.

Lightning is arguably the most dangerous threat associated with thunderstorms in Florida. The frequency and intensity of this phenomenon here is unparalleled, with Florida often being dubbed the lightning capital of the United States. Seek sturdy shelter (indoor, fully enclosed spaces or closed-top vehicles) immediately at the first signs of an advancing storm, and keep an especially close eye on the daily forecast and local radar if your plans take you to exposed areas such as the beach, ocean, golf courses, lakes, etc.


Hurricanes, the standard term for North Atlantic tropical cyclones, are the best-known method nature uses to cool temperatures during summer, though they can also occur during autumn. They come from either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean, off the west coast of Africa, in most cases, and due to climate patterns are brought to the state. However, direct hits are rare, with only a couple storms and maybe one hurricane hitting the state in an average year. The chance of travel plans colliding with a hurricane are extremely unlikely. However, if the NOAA, which has its center in Miami, predicts a hurricane to hit the part of the state you plan to visit, or even somewhere close, you should cancel your plans, as these storms are highly disruptive and bring all activity to a halt, for good reason. The worst-hit parts of the state are the south, including the Keys, and the Gulf Coast. The heartland/inland and northeastern regions rarely fall in hurricanes' paths due to geography, with Cape Canaveral acting as a shield to keep storms at bay. Common hurricane paths include west to east across the middle of the state (such as Hurricane Charlie) which can bypass the Cape, or the typically more damaging south to north storms, such as Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Michael, which build intensity over the tropical seas before dealing blows to vulnerable coastal areas. Hurricanes do bring temperatures down, much like thunderstorms, but do so with much more damage and in many cases higher wind speeds, and cause flash floods before either moving to another region or exhausting themselves.

Coastal areas, which are low-lying in Florida, are most vulnerable to storm surge, during which sea levels temporarily rise and fall dramatically due to the cyclonic nature of hurricanes. Storm surge can cause sea levels to rise several feet and can destroy entire neighborhoods during the most intense hurricanes, so as a precaution beachside areas are typically evacuated in the region of an approaching hurricane.


Summer in Key West

Being indoors is of course a way to avoid the summer heat. But don't underestimate how much time you spend outdoors: a quarter-mile walk in the sun can be virtually intolerable to those not experienced in Southern climates. Some destinations, such as the Kennedy Space Center, have built innovative water-spraying machines to keep tourists cool during high temperatures. That said, don't panic over the summer heat, either: if you plan your outdoor activities for early morning (before 9 AM) and avoid being in the sun for long periods of time (intensity of heat is far lower in the shade), you can still enjoy many of the state's points of interest without melting in the heat. However, avoid going to forested areas during sunrise and sunset, as this is when you are most likely to encounter insects. They often stay near trees or close to the ground, reducing the effectiveness of repellant. Shade can be a highly effective way to escape the sun's intensity, though forested areas are popular with insects, too, so use caution.

Places to avoid in summer include:

  • Anywhere near stagnant bodies of water, as insects congregate in these areas, including canals or bodies of water like "mosquito lagoon." That's not to mention that areas get particularly humid due to the high concentration of moisture.
  • Unless you're well-prepared, outdoor theme parks. This is a mistake some foreigners make, thinking a Disney trip in mid-summer is ideal, when a better time to visit the theme parks is winter, if possible.
  • State/national parks and forest preserves, which have high humidity, high temperatures,
  • Deep inland parts of the state that are equivalent to the Mississippi Delta in terms of heat and humidity.

Places to visit in summer:

  • The beach.
  • Anywhere indoors or primarily indoors, where air conditioning is typically ubiquitous
  • Urban areas with adequate shade cover.

You can certainly build tolerance to the heat overtime, as locals don't feel the heat nearly as much as first-time visitors. Keep in mind that the high temperatures are quite conducive to, for example, sitting on a balcony at sunset, or other low levels of activity. High-activity plans at these temperatures, particularly outdoors, are exhausting so leave some space in travel plans to accommodate the challenges of the climate.

By the summer solstice, the sun is close to vertical in Florida, and sunscreen is essential here for those prone to sunburn. Even early morning and early evening can bring intense sun, to the extent that in exposed spaces such as the beach, it can take only minutes to develop a painful burn if unprotected.

Hurricane seasonEdit

Damage in the Florida Panhandle from Hurricane Michael, a borderline category 4/5 hurricane

Officially lasting from June 1st through November 30th each year, traveling to Florida during the Atlantic hurricane season can severely disrupt your plans if you are unprepared. The summertime threat is statistically greatest in late July through mid-September, so be sure to have a backup plan, or consider postponing travel if hurricane impacts are already predicted within 5-7 days of your visit.


While unlikely to directly affect summertime visitors to Florida in their day-to-day activities, encountering various insects is a common experience (particularly in areas close to water or vegetation), especially so during this time of the year when moisture is abundant. Pests such as mosquitoes and flies are mostly harmless, but there are many simple and inexpensive remedies to mitigate their impact available, including sprays, lotions, and special clothing.

The "no-see-em's" can be a menace if you stay still outdoors during sunrise or sunset.

In May or October you may encounter "lovebugs." These small, black, flying insects mate for a week or two in late spring and early fall, during which they are abundant, and frequently congregate near cars and can cause paint damage if left outdoors for too long. However, the creatures are otherwise harmless and after mating, die, not to reappear until either fall or next spring.

See alsoEdit

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