Summer in Southwest Florida: Enjoy the Show
No matter how much everyone loves to whine and complain about it, Florida’s annual season of scorching heat, high humidity, and copious rainfall (aka, summer) is a good thing. For without a healthy rainy season to counterbalance Florida’s many months of perfect dry weather, the state would be little more than a large desert wedged between two coasts. Its lush landscapes would wither and die, and the watery ecosystems that supply our drinking water and support many of our favorite recreational pastimes—to say nothing of Florida’s abundant wildlife—would simply dry up.
Southwest Florida’s rainy season officially runs from May 15 through Oct. 15. But it’s not as if the tap suddenly turns on and shuts off on these two days. Instead, these dates serve as a reminder that strong storms and heavy afternoon downpours have a high probability of occurring, almost daily, during this period.
That said, with a few simple adjustments you needn’t let Florida’s summertime weather rain on your parade or dampen your vacation plans! Indeed, every Floridian lives by the adage that if you don’t like the weather here, wait a few minutes and it will change.
Rain is always in the forecast this time of year; and not letting it disrupt your vacation is all about knowing how to time your activities.
After the sun rises, things begin to heat up fast. Thus, you want to schedule all high energy activities—such as running, tennis, pickleball or golf—in the cooler mornings or late afternoon hours.
Once the thermometer begins to max out at midday, your time is better spent inside. Or at least in search of a cooling patch of shade. In fact, the mark of any true Floridian is that he or she will gladly forego a parking space directly in front of where they need to go in exchange for a shadier spot a block away. Finding shade for your car is always worth the inconvenience. For if left in full sun long enough, you can actually bake cookies on its dashboard! It also helps to have a sunshade for your car’s windshield.
The hottest part of the day, usually between noon and late afternoon, is an excellent time to visit a museum, enjoy a long leisurely lunch, take in a movie or theater matinee, go shopping—preferably in an indoor mall—or rest-up for later, by which time the afternoon rains may have cooled things off a bit.
All-day rainouts are rare occurrences, so you don’t usually need to cancel your plans simply because rain is in the forecast. But lightning is a different story.
In case you haven’t heard, the Tampa Bay region owns the dubious distinction of being the lightning capital of the world, a fact you need to take seriously. Even if the storm clouds appear too far off to pose an immediate threat if you can hear thunder—even if only in the distance—you can be struck by lightning. If you are out in the open, best to find shelter soon. Or better yet, duck into one of the fine drinking and dining establishments on Main Street, or St. Armands Circle (or wherever you happened to be) until the foul weather blows over. This is especially true if you are not used to driving through heavy downpours and stormy conditions. Stay off the roads until the rain lets up. For while it seldom rains for very long, it usually rains hard and accumulates on the roadways very quickly.
Florida’s rainy season always runs parallel with the Atlantic hurricane season. And while the Sarasota region has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane in many years, keeping an eye on the tropics while you vacation here is never a bad idea, especially in the late summer and early fall when the Gulf of Mexico is a hot mess. Visit here for more hurricane information.
With these tips in mind, keep calm and carry on. This is Florida. It’s summer. It will get hot. It will get stormy. There will be flashes of lightning. And jaw-dropping sunsets. And you will be okay. Just keep cool and enjoy the show!