If you’ve spent even a single summer in Florida – or even if you’ve just vacationed here in June, July, or August – you’re probably aware of the oppressive heat. The state of Florida closer to the equator than any of the other 48 contiguous states, but that’s not the only reason it feels so hot. Here, you’ll learn more about the reasons behind hot Florida summers and how to beat the heat.
Because Florida lies so close to the equator, it receives stronger sunlight than the rest of the country. If you shine a flashlight on a globe, right in the middle, the area where the light is the brightest represents the areas where the sun’s radiation is most concentrated, and this is responsible for creating heat. If you spin the globe slowly, just as the Earth turns on its axis to create day and night, you’ll also discover that Florida is almost always right in the path of your flashlight during the day. As such, the radiation builds, and the atmosphere traps the heat.
Another reason behind the hot Florida summers can be found on the Western, Eastern, and Southern coastlines – the water. Florida is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Both of these bodies of water are quite warm; they contain currents of water warmed in the tropics, and this water stays relatively warm all year long. This warm water is partially responsible for hot Florida summers, and it also helps explain why the temperatures in Florida almost never drop below freezing in the winter, too. Air moving across this water absorbs some of the heat, which is then transferred to the land.
Humidity is perhaps the biggest factor when it comes to the factors responsible for hot Florida summers. As air moves across the warm bodies of water, it picks up more than just heat; it also picks up water vapor. This increases the relative humidity, which is a term that describes the percentage of water vapor in the air at its current temperature. During the month of July, the average relative humidity is in the 72- to 80-degree range. This means the air is holding up to 80% of its total capacity of water vapor.
Beating the Humid and Hot Florida Summers
When you get hot, you sweat. This is a biological mechanism designed to keep your body temperature at 98.6 degrees. When you sweat in dry air, that air evaporates the sweat from your skin, which leaves you feeling cooler. However, when you sweat in humid air, that evaporation isn’t possible. As a result, you feel uncomfortable, and the air feels warmer than it truly is. Meteorologists refer to this as the “heat index”. Even sitting in the shade does very little to provide comfort. This is why air conditioning is important for your health; your air conditioner removes humidity from the air, which allows that air to absorb your sweat and keep you cool. It’s the only true way to beat the heat from late spring through early fall.
As you can see, hot Florida summers are caused by much more than just the rays of the sun. The combination of the southern geographical location, the warm bodies of water, and the humidity in the air all come together to make the outdoor air feel oppressive. Fortunately, your air conditioner can remove that humidity from the air inside your home and help keep you cool.