Many people who live in Central Florida don’t talk about the four seasons much: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Since we don’t experience true “seasonal” weather, like snow in the winter and changing leaves in the fall, we don’t usually even recognize the change of seasons like others do.
We do, however, talk a lot about the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season runs approximately five months, from mid-May until mid-October. The other 7 months are known as the dry season, and most people say this is the reason they live in Florida. From mid-October to mid-May, the temperatures cool, the humidity drops, and the daily afternoon storms end.
The biggest reason for the changing weather pattern is that cold fronts actually make it all the way through Florida. Cool air doesn’t get a strong push south during the summer months. Once air gets really cold at the North Pole, it pushes toward the equator, sending cooler, drier air into Florida. Central Florida still gets rain during the dry season, but the rain comes almost entirely from passing fronts rather than from afternoon sea breeze storms.
There isn’t a definitive start date or time for the dry season, but there are a few signals that alert us that the dry season is beginning:
- Daily sea breeze storms end
- A strong cold front brings cool, dry air (usually around October 15)
- Temperatures dip below 60°
- Rain comes almost entirely from passing fronts
Forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Melbourne, Florida make the official “call” of when the dry season has begun for Central Florida. They usually wait a few days, or sometimes weeks, after they “think” the season has started before determining the official start date for that year.
On average, the dry season begins for Orlando and Daytona Beach on October 15, but it has started as early as September 27 (in Orlando in 2006) and as late as November 13 (in Daytona Beach in 1946).
We don’t often get to bundle up in the wintertime in Florida. The average low goes from the 60s in October to 49 in January. But that’s okay with me. I think the five months of sweltering heat and afternoon storms makes the dry season worth the wait!