Here in the mid-Atlantic, like much of the country, the seasons change from hot summer nights to cool autumn evenings and it got me thinking about the weather in Florida. And just how dang consistent it is. I’m not sure I’d like to live in that nice of a climate 365 days a year. I like seeing the seasons change from green to orange to hopefully white, fluffy snow. My only two thoughts about Florida weather before researching for this article were about hurricanes and heat. You can learn all you want about hurricanes by turning on the Weather channel anytime from June to November. This article is about the Florida heat.
Why is Florida hot? Location & Shape
We all know from the third grade that the closer you are to the equator, the hotter it becomes and for the continental US, Florida is the closest state. So, it would make sense for Florida to have a hot climate. Hawaii though holds the number one spot for distance to the equator for the entire country.
Florida’s shape plays a huge role in its climate for two reasons. One, peninsulas are naturally warmer than mainlands because the adjacent water absorbs the sun’s warmth and heats up the land it surrounds. And two, Florida’s land is 75% coastal and as air moves across the warm water it picks up heat and water vapors, making Florida the most humid in the country.
Why is Florida hot? Climate Zones
Is it climate or weather? Let’s settle this once and for all. Weather analysis of atmospheric conditions takes a relatively short period of time, we’re talking hours to a couple of weeks. Climate on the other hand is an average of those patterns over a longer period of time, like many, many years. Florida has 4 climate zones.
- 1. Most of Florida is Humid Subtropical (Cfa), which the Nation Weather Service describes as mild with dry winters and hot summers. The coldest month’s temperature is below 64° and above 27°. This climate extends from the north down through central Florida.
- Tropical Savana (As) is the next largest climate zone where winter tends to be dryer, but the average temperatures are always above 64°. Places like our beloved Fort Myers, Naples, the everglades, and the south.
- Tropical Monsoon (Am) makes up a smaller portion of Florida with a pronounced wet season and a short dry season, usually with the hottest temperatures being just before the start of the rainy season. This is the eastern part of the everglades, Okeechobee, and Miami to Boca Raton.
- And an even smaller part of Florida is tropical rainforest (Af) with no dry season and evenly distributed rainfall throughout the year. This is the surrounding area of Jupiter and West Palm Beach.
Why is Florida hot? Sunshine. Intense sunshine
According to Current Results: Weather and Science Facts, Fort Myers has 266 total days a year with sun, Key West has 259, Orlando sits at 236 and Tallahassee has 231. Note that the national average is about 205.
Not only does the actual time the sun is shining affect Florida’s warmth, but the angle of the sun’s rays plays a role in how intense they are. Since Florida is subtropical and closer to the equator, the rays come in at nearly a 90° angle and are thus concentrated in a direct beam. Rays that hit Earth in the northern regions are at an angle and more spread out thus less intense.
If you’ve made it this far in the article, I applaud you. You now know more about Florida’s climate than you asked for. Now grab a beach towel, sun hat, and some good sunscreen and hit the surf.
I’ll see you out there.
Superpowers include remembering this useless information to bring up at gatherings where no one asked for it.