MacDill AFB Community
MacDill AFB Weather: What To Expect When Moving Here
If you think lightning never strikes twice, then you obviously haven’t done a Permanent Change of Station to MacDill Air Force Base. Figuratively, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to successfully advance your career at the home of the 6th Air Refueling Wing. Literally, the local Tampa, Florida, weather boasts blue skies, humid summers, cooler winters and also the phenomena that earns the area its “Lightning Capital of the Nation” status.
Wherever you’re moving from, the Tampa Bay metro region will instill an appreciation for precipitation and the crackling, electrical excitement that often accompanies local weather here.
Suggested Read: MacDill AFB: In-Depth Welcome Center
The region around MacDill Air Force Base has a humid subtropical climate closely bordering a tropical monsoon climate near the waterfronts. Just 4 miles south of Tampa, one of western Florida’s largest cities, MacDill is situated on the Interbay Peninsula, about 14 feet above sea level.
There are two basic seasons in the Tampa Bay area: a hot and wet season from May through October and a mild and dry season from November through April. During the wet season, there’s hardly anything more consistent than high humidity and a daily chance of thundershowers, especially in the afternoon. Summer thunderstorms typically bring brief periods of heavy rain and gusty winds with frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. Afternoon storms are usually followed by a pleasantly clear and cooler evening. During the dry season, local weather is normally sunny and mild, with a cooling trend through the fall and a slow increase in temperatures starting in February.
Knowing the range of temps in each season at MacDill can help you prepare for any activity, whether it be strenuous outdoor exercise or a relaxing evening watching the sunset.
Florida Hurricane Season
At MacDill, it’s unlikely but possible that Airmen and their families will face the threat of hurricanes due to the jet stream in that area, however, the devastating wind and rainstorms which mainly occur June 1 to Nov. 30.
Being prepared for hurricane season, and the storm surges they produce, is a part of living here, and no home should be without an emergency supply kit that includes such items as:
- Extra non-perishable food and water
- Gas in your car
- An extra gas can stored just in case of prolonged gas outages (like during Hurricane Irma)
- Flashlights, radios and batteries
- Backup generator
Be aware that during and after a hurricane, you could be without electricity — and your usual forms of communication — for extended periods of time. Don’t forget to include your pets’ needs when fortifying your reserves. Visit the base’s official page on hurricane information to learn about disaster planning, current conditions, evacuation instructions and more.
High temps: Low to mid 70s
Low temps: Low to high 50s
In Tampa, spring isn’t your stereotypical break from winter’s death grip — mainly because the area maintains relatively warmer temperatures year-round. Additionally, spring is considered a dry season — with mild days — and frozen precipitation is rare. An occasional cold front may bring rain and cooler temps for a few days. A mix of lighter clothing in layers — think jackets and caps for mornings and nights — will allow you to choose just the right amount of comfort throughout the day.
High temps: Mid 80s to mid 90s
Low temps: Low to mid 70s
Starting in about May, the wet season ushers in increased rainfall to accompany warmer temps. Afternoon thundershowers occasionally intensify into a severe thunderstorm, bringing heavy downpours, frequent lightning, strong winds and sometimes hail. The highest daily chance for rainfall — 72 percent — peaks on July 30, and the most rain falls during the 31 days around Aug. 14, with an average total accumulation of 6.4 inches. Though the humidity can feel inescapable, the large surrounding bodies of water do regulate temps somewhat, as the area has never recorded a 100-degree day. Rain-resistant and breathable fabrics are essential to staying as comfortable as possible. And don’t forget to hydrate!
High temps: Mid to high 80s
Low temps: Low 70s
Beginning in September, temperatures, rainfall and humidity start to decline. The threat of hurricanes wanes, and November is typically MacDill’s driest month. In fact, the smallest chance of a wet day all year is 14 percent on Nov. 24. This relatively dry season will last through the holidays and until temperatures start to rise in the spring. Though lightweight rain gear and jackets will still serve you well, an El Nino effect could bring relatively cooler temps and a La Nina effect could bring relatively warmer temps during this season.
Pay attention to local news broadcasts during El Nino seasons. Most years, El Nino doesn’t disrupt beach-going. But recent years have been quite severe, killing off marine life and shutting down Florida’s beaches.
High temps: Low to mid 70s
Low temps: Mid 50s
Dry and mild days are staples of the winter season, and while you may miss the traditional frosty holidays, you can console yourself by remembering you won’t have to scrape your windshield or shovel a sidewalk. Instead, you’ll want to know whether any humidity will make the night muggy. The least muggy day of the year is typically Jan. 27, with muggy conditions only 11 percent of the time. The shortest hours of daylight occur around Dec. 21, with more sunlight returning each day after. Keep fleece jackets, toasty caps and cozy socks handy to ward off morning and nightly temperature dips. For additional information about being prepared for Florida’s unique weather challenges, visit Ready.gov/Florida.
Field & Training Expectations Year-round
Not only will your fellow Airmen always be by your side during your stay at MacDill, but you can expect rain and some level of humidity to be constant companions throughout the year. Having an assortment of water-resistant training gear will help you get through Tampa’s wetter seasons, whether you’re jumping out of a C-130 Hercules; keeping your head above water in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape practice; or jogging at a leisurely pace at the Short Fitness & Sports Center.
Where to Find Gear at MacDill AFB
Depending on where you’re PCSing from, you may have an abundance of heavy garments you won’t need but not have the lightweight clothing you’ll want. However, if there’s one thing certain of military personnel and families, they’re quickly adaptable to new situations and locations. To this end, there are plenty of options at MacDill Air Force Base and the Tampa Bay area to acquire clothing and gear both fresh and functional.
Whether you’re looking for a uniform for the peak of summer or a sweatshirt for morning PT in the winter, you can find certified apparel at MacDill’s Military Clothing store, within the Main Exchange, Building 926, 3108 N Boundary Blvd. It’s also the one-stop location for related services such as alterations, dry cleaning, and a barber and salon. Additional barbershops are in Buildings 501 and 570. Leadership will issue announcements on which combat, service and fitness uniforms are appropriate for each season.
For more casual wear, the Main Exchange offers a variety of clothing and accessories for each season. The Airman’s Attic, 8108 Condor St., is also a valuable resource for the newly relocated. It provides free clothing and household goods free of charge to junior enlisted Airmen who are E-5 and below and their families.
Discount retailers, consignment shops and thrift stores in Tampa and St. Petersburg can also help fill out your wardrobe with inexpensive options while you discover what clothing best keeps you dry and cool.
MacDill AFB Recreation Services
Whatever weather Mother Nature brings, you’ll be able to enjoy it with the help of Recreation Services in the 6th Force Support Squadron. Cool off in the MacDill Base Pool, Building 47, Condor Street; picnic in the shade at Lewis Lake or Raccoon Creek Pavilion, Marina Bay Drive; or relax at the full-service campsites of FamCamp, 9909 Marina Bay Drive. The MacDill Marina, with its boat rentals, fishing licenses, safety courses and more, makes this installation a unique place to get your sea legs. Check with Equipment Rental, 9909 Marina Bay Drive, to help prepare your outdoor adventures.
Whether you enjoy the electric excitement of thunderstorms or the calm sway of a palm in a breeze, the weather at MacDill AFB adds to the unique experience for anyone stationed here. And with so many ways to not only survive but thrive in this tropical climate, your time at the base may be so fun that it passes in a flash. Live in the moment but (as the 6th Air Refueling Wing’s motto goes) be “Ready to Defend,” even against the humidity, by finding forecasts and other related weather announcements at the base’s Facebook page.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.