Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Climate and Storm History of Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida experiences a tropical monsoon climate, otherwise known as Köppen climate classification Am.  This translates into hot and humid summers and short, warm winters, with a distinct drier season in the winter months.  Miami’s sea-level elevation, location along the Atlantic Coastal, subtropical position, and proximity to the Gulf Stream are all instrumental in shaping the city’s climate.

January temperatures average around 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and the winter season features mild to warm temperatures.  Cool air usually settles after a cold front passes through from the west, and this produces most of the rainfall, which is still very minimal.  Low temperatures occasionally fall below 50 degrees, it is rare to see them dip below 35 degree.  Winter highs generally range between 70–77 degrees.  The wet season develops in May, and wraps up in mid-October, and this period is characterized by temperatures in the mid 80s to low 90s degree range.  High humidity accompanies these temperatures, though the heat is often minimized by afternoon thunderstorms or a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean.  Most of the year’s average 56 inches of rainfall occurs during this period.  Extreme temperatures were recorded at 27  degrees Fahrenheit on February 3, 1917, and 100 degrees on July 21, 1940.  Miami has never recorded an accumulation of measurable snow, but has once recorded snow flurries, on January 19, 1977.

Hurricane season in Miami officially runs from June 1 through November 30.  Still, hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions can develop beyond these dates. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is during the peak of the Cape Verde season, mid-August through the end of September.  Tornadoes are uncommon in the Miami area, though a tornado struck the city in 1925 and again in 1997.

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