Apr 24, 2016
The Four Seasons of North Florida
The best description I know for the four seasons around here isn't Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. It's Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer and Not Summer (also known as Christmas).
From Florida to Texas, across the northern Gulf Coast, even in Not Summer, there's no month of the year where the weather can't be warm enough for short sleeves and shorts. Not every single day as we do get some cold weather, but even in the coldest months of the year there will be warm weather. It's a place where you never pack your summer clothes away.
Almost Summer starts in March. It's a peculiar month. There are beautiful, crisp spring days bursting with blooms. The grass already needs cutting and flea season starts. Yet it's also possible to have a hard freeze that will cover everything with frost ----- usually just when the flowers are at the height of blooming. But mostly what March is is a reminder that it's Almost Summer with its start of the warm, humid days.
If it's April you can pack away the jeans and sweat clothes that pass for winter clothing. (And if you're from up North, you never unpacked your winter clothes to begin with as Northerners laugh at our notion of "cold.") People less determined than I am not to use air conditioning will turn on their air conditioners in April as afternoons will be in the upper 70s or low 80s. But the good thing about this month of Almost Summer is though the afternoons are warm (people from cooler climes have been known to start complaining about the heat in April and then it's our turn to laugh..........at their notion of "hot") the nights always cool off. The heat disappears with the sun and nighttime is quite pleasant.
The last month of Almost Summer and May lets you know it's really Almost Summer. I always tell myself I'm not going to use the air conditioner until June and only one year have I ever kept that resolution. It just gets too hot and humid during the day. The heat arrives with sunrise and doesn't depart until long after the sun sets. But what makes May Almost Summer instead of Summer is that in May there actually is some cooling off at night.
If it's June...........it's SUMMER. Close up the doors and windows and turn on the air conditioning because you're not getting any fresh air inside for the duration. There's now no break from the heat and even the nighttime is miserable.
Welcome to opening the front door in the morning and getting hit with a wall full of hot stickiness.
There are nights where you wait in vain for the heat index to go below 90º. And the days make you understand why the mass migration to the South started after air conditioning was invented. If air conditioning was ever outlawed, you'd have a mass migration out of the South because fans and a cold drink don't cut it.
September is a big tease, promising cooler weather and not delivering. You keep thinking it ought to cool off, but you keep turning on your air conditioning. If you're really lucky there might be a couple of days here and there where the humidity drops.
Most years October actually follows through on September's teasing and will deliver a few days of crisp, cool weather squeezed in between all the days of Still Summer. Halloween's tricky. You can never tell what you're going to get for Halloween and if parents were smart they'd have two costumes picked for their kids. Because it might be warm enough for that skimpy genie outfit or you might want to dress the kid as a nice, warm furry lion.
By now you'd think Summer would be over and you'd be wrong. I've seen near 90º weather for the first half of November. But at least there are more cool days than October.
Definitely Not Summer and tell yourself that when you're disputing whether or not to turn on the air conditioning on Christmas day.
One of two months of the year where the air conditioning is never turned on. You may even need the heater, at least in the mornings.
The other month of the year where the air conditioning is never turned on. Again there are some mornings where you'll want to turn on the heater, but the Spring flowers will remind you that there's no such thing as Winter in these parts. It's just Not Summer.
For more about North Florida weather and sun, there's "Storm Over Pensacola Beach," "Let the Hurricane Roar -- 'Cause What Can I Do about It Anyway?" and "Winter Solstice Sunset on Pensacola Beach."
For Florida weather and cats, read "Stormy Weather Cats - Fear and Learning in Cats."
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