The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater region has a subtropical to tropical climate with warm, wet weather during the summer and cooler, dry conditions during winter (October through February). Temperatures are pleasant during winter, with highs averaging 75.2 degrees and lows averaging 58 degrees, with a record 18 degrees set Dec. 13, 1962. Given these conditions, it’s no wonder snowbirds fly south.
Summer high temperatures average 85.9 degrees, with lows averaging 68.1 degrees accompanied by sweat-inducing high humidity, severe weather, thunderstorms and hurricanes. Annual precipitation averages 44.8 inches, and August is both the wettest and warmest month.
Every second counts in a disaster, so planning and preparation can be lifesavers. Be Ready Florida is Florida’s official emergency preparedness campaign. Be Ready Florida gives residents, communities, public safety professionals, businesses and schools valuable information and resources regarding a variety of emergencies. The website provides information on scheduling workshops to prepare for storms, resource videos about hurricanes, hail and other natural disasters, and a Florida wind insurance savings calculator. For more information about disaster preparedness, visit www.bereadyflorida.org.
The following are considered significant hazards in Florida.
Besides summer thunderstorms and lightning strikes, Florida has hurricanes, and hurricane season lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the greatest threat to life during a hurricane is the storm surge — water hurled toward shore by winds of up to 140 mph. As the storm approaches the shore, the surge combines with normal tides to create massive 13- to 17-foot waves.
Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have designated evacuation zones in areas that are vulnerable to storm surge; signs are posted 13 feet above the ground to show the potential water height. It is important to know your evacuation zone and where to go in case of an evacuation. Both county emergency management departments recommend preparing a survival kit for your family and pets as well as storing important documents in waterproof containers. For the latest shelter and evacuation information, visit https://maps.hillsboroughcounty.org/HEAT/HEAT.html or www.pinellascounty.org.
Florida’s reputation as the Sunshine State is well-deserved. It’s easy to end up with painful sunburn, or worse. Even golf, tennis and sightseeing expose you to potentially harmful UV rays. To avoid discomfort and protect yourself from the burning rays, use sunglasses, sunscreens, long-sleeved garments, wide-brimmed hats and an umbrella.
Early summer mornings are the best time to visit the beaches, golf courses and outdoor amusements. By noon, the heat and humidity can become oppressive and the great solar engine over the Gulf of Mexico churns out masses of puffy, white cumulus clouds. By mid-afternoon, huge thunderclouds dominate the western horizon and begin to drift eastward over the Gulf. These eventual storms generate heavy rains accompanied by lightning but pass quickly, and the sun reappears. By dusk, the great solar engine shuts down and the thunderstorms dissipate in time for a spectacular Gulf Coast sunset.
The Tampa Bay area is known as the lightning capital of North America. Nearly every summer, lightning kills or severely injures someone on a local golf course or beach. According to the National Weather Service, a large, enclosed structure is one of the safest places to take cover during a lightning storm. Enclosed metal vehicles are good alternatives. Stay away from electrical appliances and plumbing fixtures.
The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 Rule — seek shelter if the flash-to-bang delay (time in seconds from the lightning flash to the subsequent thunder) is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final clap of thunder. For more safety information, visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov or call 813-645-2323.