Friday, September 16, 2011

Autumn Descends on South Florida

Visitors to Florida rarely notice the seasonal shifts because they are very subtle. However, natives and long-time ‘transplants’ know that a few weeks into the hurricane season, the atmosphere begins to show signs of softer days.

Florida’s Autumn – in fact – begins at the same time “hurricane season” does. It is the slight variations in humidity and water temperature that ushers in this season. And, though, hurricane season “officially” begins around May or June (in the Caribbean), the majority of Florida doesn’t get it until around September or October.

Florida is a tropical environment – similar to the rain forests of South America. Visitors may feel the heat and humidity because they are not as adjusted to the environment, down here. The state is continually blanketed with a thick covering of dense, wet air (humidity) which tends to ‘thin a smidge’ the farther north you go.

In the summer months, this blanket is extreme; you cannot step outside without immediately perspiring. However, when autumn falls, this blanket is no longer there, at least it seems that way to native Floridians and long-time ‘transplants’.

These cooler and milder days also usher in the beginnings of tourist season in November. This period is toward the end of hurricane season, but, before the harsh winters descends in the northern states. Yet, no matter how far north one travels, you are still surrounded by large bodies of water.

Tourists come, mainly, for our beaches; our ‘moody’ beaches. In autumn, the days are coming out of summer (when it’s excruciatingly hot) and cooling off; the underlying firmament isn’t, though. This makes the waters off our shores extra warm. So, in autumn the air in the days cools, significantly; but, the waters are still extra warm.

However, in the spring, it is quite the opposite. The firmament has been significantly cooled, emitting a chill into the waters off our shores, while the air in the days is significantly warming. The winter and springtime waters are too freezing cold for Native Floridians.

For example, in autumn a daytime temperature of 77° has little humidity and 83° water; whereas a springtime day may have a temperature of 77° severe humidity (making the day feel like 85°), but, the water is only 73°.

The typical “norm” for acceptable water-temps to a Native Floridian is about 80° – 90° F. Anything below 80° is too cold!

Personally, I have a saying that I like sharing with trans-plants; it does not apply to tourists, though:

You know you've become a Floridian when you can, actually, see the seasons change.

How Different Floridians Are! [A Short, but True Story]

A Native Floridian visits Washington State in the late spring and stays with a family friend who is a Native of Washington. The Floridian fixes the pool out back, noticing the day is gloomy, grey and very chilly.

The next day, however, the sun is out and the temperature is somewhere in the 70’s. The Floridian goes outside and sees the Native Washingtonian floating in the pool with sunglasses and a beverage. “Come on in,” she says. “The water is so warm!”

The Floridian goes to the edge of the pool and pulls the thermometer out to read it. The temperature reads 56° F. “Oh, my god,” the Floridian shouts! “I’ll get hypothermia.”

The pool-floater asks what would be an acceptable temperature to go swimming. The Floridian replies, “I’d go in if the temperature was closer to 77° - 80°.”

“That’s bathwater,” Shouted the lady in the pool, disbelievingly! To which, the Floridian replied, “No... Bathwater is 110°.”

*Old mariner's poem about Caribbean hurricanes:

June- too soon.
July-- stand by!
August-- look out you must.
September-- remember.
October, all over.

By Teresa Plowright, Guide

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