It’s the middle of summer, many families are enjoying their Clearwater Beach summer vacations. You’re having fun playing on the soft white sand, building sandcastles, cooling off in the calm waves of the Gulf of Mexico and making memories as a family. In the middle of all the fun, you hear a rumble and clouds start to darken the sky. The hot sunny summer day is interrupted with darker skies, rain, thunder, and lightning. It’s time to get off the beach and stay safe! Not only is it summer, but it’s Florida Thunderstorm season. Also known as Clearwater Beach lightning season.
Florida Thunderstorm Season
If you’re visiting Clearwater Beach during the summer, there’s a good chance you’ll see some rain because summer is Florida’s thunderstorm season. The rain kicks off in June with an average of 10 days with rain in the month but increases even more in July and August. July having an average of 15 days with rain and August an average of 14 days with rain. Don’t worry though, it’s mostly popup storms and showers, not full days of rain. You’ll still have plenty of beach time for fun in the sun, and there are some great Clearwater Beach rainy day activities if you’re caught with a full day of rain.
These popup thunderstorms most often occur in the late afternoon and often are out of the way before sunset. Florida thunderstorms are caused by hot, humid air pushing towards an area of unstable atmosphere that’s often found near the Florida coasts on hot summer days. Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Miami described why Florida sees so many thunderstorms in Kim Millers news story, “Florida’s summer thunderstorms are unique, deadly”.
“Land heats faster than water, creating a temperature difference that can be as much as 10 degrees. The warmer, lighter air over land rises and flows toward the sea creating areas of low pressure along the coast. The atmosphere compensates by sending in the cooler, moist sea breeze. It’s replacing the hot air over land but in the act of replacing it’s forcing it to rise. So you get hot juicy air over the peninsula to rise quickly and the leading edge of the sea breeze will act as a trigger for storms to form.”
These frequently forming thunderstorms are often packed with lightning, making them dangerous! Florida has more lightning strikes each year than any other state within the United States. Most of these lightning strikes coming during summer. While all of Florida has a large number of thunderstorms packing lightning during the Florida Thunderstorm season, the area from Clearwater Beach to Orlando and just south of this stretch towards Fort Myers has the highest amount of thunderstorms each year.
The combination of outdoor activities in Florida and the frequent lightning during Florida’s thunderstorm season result in a dangerous situation. When visiting Clearwater Beach or any part of Florida during the summer always keep an eye on the weather and respect the strength of mother nature. Lightning is dangerous. Florida has more lightning-caused deaths each year than any other state. Be sure to stay safe.
Clearwater Beach Lightning Safety
Always check the weather before you head out on the beach. If there’s a storm already building, it’s best to be safe and just stay indoors. If you’re out on the beach, watch for forming clouds. If you’re not sure, ask a lifeguard or watch the Clearwater Beach lifeguard towers. The lifeguard towers fly different colored flags on them to inform people of the conditions. Clearwater Beach Lifeguard Rachel Lersch discussed the flags and what they mean…
“Green: Low Hazard. Most of the time, on Clearwater Beach, we fly the Green flag. Conditions, for the most part, are good at Clearwater. Calm waters, sunny days! Yellow: Medium Hazard. We will fly the yellow flag when there are possibilities of rip currents and rougher than normal waves. As a caution to the beachgoers to be prepared. Red: High Hazard. We will fly the red flag when there are sever conditions. Rip currents, high surf, strong and rough waves are present. Double Red: Water is closed. When the double red is flying we will whistle everyone to get out and stay out of the water! Purple: Dangerous Marine Life. We will fly the purple flags if we know there are stingrays, jellyfish or other possible dangers present.”
Listening to the lifeguards is always important, especially when there’s a thunderstorm in the area. If there’s a storm coming in. Get off the beach, and especially stay out of the water. Lightning doesn’t have it strike you directly if you’re in the ocean lighting striking the water can cause you severe harm and potential death. Water is a good conductor of electricity, stay out of the ocean when storms are in the area.
The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is inside a nearby building. When a storm blows in, take a break from the beach and head back to your Clearwater Beach condo or hotel. If you’re not staying on the island visit some of the nearby shops, restaurants and wait for the storm to pass over. It usually doesn’t take long. If you need to get around during the storm, do not walk from one place to the other. Call Free Beach Rides in the Clearwater Beach area or use a taxi or rideshare service to help you safely travel around during the storm!
Stay safe during thunderstorms and have a wonderful time in Clearwater Beach!
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