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Florida in the Winter

Updated on January 11, 2020

Winter time is high season in Florida all over the state. Thousands descend from the Midwest, North, and Canada, which is why they earn the nickname, Snowbirds. The most common destinations they flock to on the Gulf side are::

  • Tampa
  • Sarasota
  • Venice
  • Ft. Myers.
  • Naples

On the Atlantic Side:

  • Miami
  • Ft. Lauderdale
  • Palm Beach
  • Orlando

What to Expect Between Nov.- April

Naturally, it IS warmer and it IS much less humid. Generally, when there is no cold front passing through, temperatures range from a low of 60F to a high of 80F. If you happen to arrive in a cold snap, temps drop to a low of 50F to a high of 70-75F. You can tell when a cold front moves through because wind is from the north, northeast, northwest bringing the much cooler air. During the summer, these winds mostly blow from the opposite directions and temps remain 75F as a low to 90F has a high and humidity is much higher.

Since many expect warm tropical oceans, a shock happens when they hit the beach and water. In the winter, ocean temps drop significantly from 87F in the summer to 65-70F in the winter months. What this means is that, at first, you may think it is too cold, but once in, it feels like a fresh water lake on the Gulf side. On the Atlantic side, which tends to run warmer due to currents, sea temps range from 70-75F. In comparison, the Pacific ocean on the west coast is usually 50-55F all year and one can only stay in it for a few minutes before you are numb. Of course, if you are in Key West, just 90 miles from Cuba, the ocean is 75-80F. But again, after the summertime of bath-like warm water that does not refresh, winter brings a true refreshing fresh water-like feel on the Gulf side.

Another thing to expect are much more people and traffic with all the usual associated problems. Some places surge in population, like Sarasota and Venice, adding over 10,000, if not more.

If you are planning to come, make sure what the forecasts indicate while you are here as there can be many days of rain or temps barely reaching 70F. The good thing, this type of weather does not last more than 4-5 days before much warmer temps arrive. While winter is the dry period in Florida, sporadic rain can occur, but it usually safe to presume no rain.

The true high season is mid-Nov through December. Schools are out by mid-December and many flock southwards. One of the most favorite spots is Orlando, which is not on either coast. It has all the theme parks you might ever want and it is close enough (2 hrs.) to either coast. It is closer to Tampa and Clearwater which also have theme parks and about 3-4 hrs. from Miami. Once the true high season is gone, high season remains through March. Starting in mid-March, many start to leave and by mid-April, most have gone.

Florida in the winter reminds one of California in the springtime with its similar temperature range and lower humidity. For locals, its a great time to do major home projects and landscaping because plants are not in their growing mode.


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