By Verdina Roka
Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Key West of South Florida have a tropical monsoon climate. Two seasons only: (1) little rain with mild temperatures (winter), or (2) lots of rain with hot steamy temperatures (summer). It is like being in the Bahamas or the Caribbean Islands without leaving mainland USA.
(1) October though May is the moderate season, the most beloved by tourists and residents alike. The humidity is lower. Daytime temperatures hover around 75° F (24° C). Bathing suits, loose-fitting t-shirts, shorts, and full-length slacks or jeans can be comfortable. Short-sleeve days may meld into a long-sleeve evening, but not always. Carry a long-sleeve overshirt with you just in case it does cool off.
December and January may bring an occasional cold snap causing residents to break out coats and sweaters. Northerners laugh, saying it feels like a spring day to them! The beaches remain busy. Ah, the joy of windsurfing on Christmas Day without a wetsuit!
This season is so easy there is little else to say about it – except to use 40+ sun block and drink plenty of fluids. The sun tracks higher overhead than in the northern latitudes, remaining very powerful.
(2) June through September brings the rainy season, with June having the highest rainfall of any month. This is the greenest season, the Hot and Humid season with 90° F (32° C) temperatures for most of the day and well into the night. It may cool off a notch after midnight, but two hours after sunrise it may well be 80° F again. HOWEVER, there is almost always a sea breeze, so temperatures of 100° F (38° C) and higher are very, very rare.
For those who enjoy walking around with hardly a stitch on, you are welcomed with open arms and the best discount prices. Long slacks and jeans become unbearable outdoors. The rains are easily dodged, or warm if you catch a few drops. Do not let a prediction of rain cancel a day out. It may rain where you are at but not your destination. There is no way to know unless you go.
A drenching rain one hour may be followed with sun and clear skies the next. It may rain on one side of the street but not the other. It may rain on land but not on the beach or out on the water. It may rain for three minutes and then be clear skies again. When a downpour strikes, locals wait a few minutes for it to clear or lighten – no need to get drenched!
Sometimes it rains only before dawn. Sometimes it will rain hard and heavy for one hour every afternoon, like clockwork, then trail off leaving the most amazing sunsets. Sometimes accompanied with thunder and lightening (take cover), other times not.
Prevent Sunburn! and Hydrate!
With all this humidity, moisturizing lotions are mucky. Hydrate from the inside with plenty of drinking water. A daily habit of 40+ sun block lotion (a quickly absorbed brand) is a good idea for all skin types. Put it on before going out, while your skin is dry so it can bond. Repeat during the day if remaining outdoors. Add a hat and a lightweight long-sleeve shirt for protection at the height of the day, plus a light towel to lay across your legs when needed. Seriously: The hours between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm are brutal, even on a cloudy day.
If you are one who must get a tan, no worries, you will still get tanned using 40+ sun block lotion! If only shopping and running errands, wear the sun block! The worst of a sunburn may not hit until the next day. Done, no fun. Especially protect children and others in your care. Continuously drink plenty of water, even when not thirsty. Symptoms of dehydration may include fatigue, headache, foggy thinking, and dizziness.
The saving grace of the hot-hot-hot weather of June through September is an ideal water temperature for those who love being in the water. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, kite surfing, para-gliding, jet-skiing, boating, sailing, yacht racing, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, water parks, water aerobics, or floating on an air mattress. Whew. All with waterproof sun block of 40+ of course. The water is warm yet refreshing until August, when shallow waters of swimming pools and Biscayne Bay become surprisingly warm. Even the shoreline of the more turbulant Atlantic Ocean will be warm.
When not splashing in the water, seek the shade and enjoy a cool beverage in the ever-present sea breeze. Remember — the sun reflects off of just about everything. You will get plenty of sun even in the shade.
If getting splashed is not your thing — sleep during the heat of the day and go out on the warm nights. There are plenty of into-the-night promenades and entertainments. Summer nights are soooo comfortable. Gentle breezes balance the humidity, making outdoor restaurants and gathering spots most enjoyable.
A nighttime sail (with a local-knowledge captain) becomes absolutely magical. Carry an overshirt or wrap in case a breeze kicks up.
Keep in mind that indoor restaurants, theaters, museums, and stores set the air conditioning low to keep the humidity down, to minimize mold and mildew. Meaning: too cool for beachwear. What starts out as a refreshing coolness soon becomes a chill. Bring an overshirt. Women, especially beware places where men wear suit coats. The temperature will be set for them.
Hurricane season is June 1 through November 30, with September being the peak month. Thankfully there is advance notice for tropical storms and hurricanes. See Hurricane Watch and Weather Radio. Visitors know there is a chance they may have to leave early. Stay tuned to weather reports.