If you want 75-degree temperatures near Christmas, then Florida is the state for you. It’s one of the warmest places in the US to visit during December, especially if you head for the Florida Keys in the southern part of the state. Southern Florida has a tropical climate, while other parts of the state are pretty close.
However, there’s more to Florida than balmy weather. There can be ferocious thunderstorms accompanied by lightning and tornadoes. The state’s long, narrow shape is just one reason why hurricanes are a constant threat as well. Here are three things worth knowing about the weather in the Sunshine State.
There’s lots of lightning
Florida averages 1.2 million cloud-to-ground lightning flashes per year or 3,500 per day. That sounds like a lot, but it only ranks fourth in the country behind Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Instead, Florida lays claim to a grimmer distinction, as it has the most lightning-related fatalities in the entire country. For that, you can thank Florida’s unique location. It sits in-between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. When the sea breeze comes in from the coast, it combines with the state’s notorious heat and humidity to create the perfect ground for thunderstorms.
The middle part of North America is often known as Tornado Alley, but if you go to the central part of Florida, you’ll find an area known as Lightning Alley. If you can hear thunder, you’re at risk of being struck by lightning. When you see lightning in the sky, start counting. Stop counting when you hear thunder. An old rule says that if more than 30 seconds pass, you’re in the clear. If less than 30 seconds pass, you should seek shelter, and stop using computers or other electrical devices.
The weather in Florida can and does change rapidly. The sun can emerge with a blinding intensity just a few minutes after a storm passes. In an hour, you can go from unplugging all the electronics to reconnecting everything so you look for affordable custom curtains to block out the strongest rays.
Hurricanes are always a risk
Not surprisingly, Florida is also the most likely state to get hit by a hurricane. North Carolina ranks second and Texas third, but it’s not a close call. To quote The Weather Channel, “Florida sticks out like a sore thumb with 229 strikes since 1851.” That number refers to both tropical storms and hurricanes, as the country averages one to two hurricane landfalls every season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 every year.
A storm can hit Florida from either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic. It has the longest coastline of any state in the continental United States, which means there’s plenty of land for hurricanes to run ashore.
Snow is very uncommon
For all the hurricanes and lightning, there’s one thing you almost never have to worry about in Florida: snow. The northern part of the state gets snow once in a while, but it’s still a rare occurrence. In January 2018, snow fell on the state capital of Tallahassee for the first time in 28 years.
In winter, business owners in Florida are more likely to seek out commercial HVAC services for air-conditioning repairs than they are to need snow boots or a snow shovel. Like a lot of Southern states, Florida shuts down when it gets snow. Schools and government offices close because there’s just not the right infrastructure in place to handle even a few inches of snow.