According to singer Albert Hammond it never rains in Southern California. Florida, on the other hand is a different story. Despite being called “the Sunshine State,” rain as an almost daily occurrence. As summer heat builds, thunderstorms crop most afternoons. Then there’s hurricane season.
Not to worry, ITM has you covered. With a bit of planning and common sense, the rain doesn’t have to wash summertime theme park adventures down the drain.
Most Floridians will advise those who are not happy with the weather to give it a couple hours. During the summer, one can almost set their watch to the timing of daily downpours. In most cases, these cloudbursts don’t last all day.
Advance planning and patience can easily make the difference between a slight inconvenience or an extreme disappointment:
- Expect to rain almost every afternoon. Bring (or purchase in advance) a rain poncho and/or umbrella to have ready when visiting the theme parks
- Bring zip lock bags for wallets and cell phones (also good to have on hand when braving water rides)
- Keep an eye on daily forecasts to have an idea when storms might be in the area. If possible, plan meals or to be in queue at a favorite indoor attraction around the time bad weather arrives.
- Expect some attractions to temporarily close either due to winds, lightening or both.
- Keep in mind outdoor roller coasters can turn raindrops into pinpoints of pain when ridden during even a small shower.
- Wear comfortable shoes (wet socks and tight or ill-fitting shoes are not a comfortable mix)
- If possible bring a change of clothes. Keep these in a waterproof bag to have ready in the event of getting caught unexpectedly in a sudden downpour.
- Use common sense – don’t run when the ground is wet. One slip can mean disaster (injury and/or drenched clothing).
Known officially as the Atlantic Hurricane Season, June 1st to November 30th is the time of year when powerful tropical cyclones are likely to form. While extremely dangerous and costly these weather monsters are well tracked and offer a fair amount of advance warning.
With regards to vacationing at any of Central Florida’s exciting theme park destinations, it is important to stay in the know. These tips might help:
- Check and double check the weather forecast. In addition to local forecasts be aware of what storms might be brewing in the Atlantic Ocean and/or Gulf of Mexico.
- Know the difference between a “watch” and a “warning”
“Hurricane warnings indicate that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph), the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds to allow for important preparation.
During a hurricane warning, complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds in an area.
During a hurricane watch, prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued. Listen closely to instructions from local officials.” –NOAA
- Be prepared to change your plans. A potentially approaching hurricane can mean hotel closings, and evacuations (for example, in cases of possible flood producing rains, Fort Wilderness Campground, at Walt Disney World may be closed and/or evacuated).
- Expect attractions, if not entire theme parks to close depending on the severity of weather conditions. Such closures, while inconvenient, are always done with safety of both staff and guests in mind.
- Plan ahead. Its always good to have a contingency plan in place should one of these dangerous storms turn toward Central Florida. Be ready to end your vacation early and have a plan in place if you need to do so. Expect traffic issues and follow directions of authorities.
While a hurricane can be very frightening, having a plan in place and keeping informed of weather patterns can help ensure that it won’t be a disaster. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.
Florida’s liquid sunshine might be a daily dose of downpour disappointment, but it does not have to ruin the day. A bit of preparation and awareness can save the day. In some cases, arrival of afternoon rains might even mean shorter wait time for popular attractions.