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Florida: Best Storm Holiday Locations


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Posted
  • Location: Darwen, BB3
  • Location: Darwen, BB3

Evening everyone, not sure where else threads like this belong these days but this area seemed appropriate.

Bored with the pathetic activity in the UK in recent years and both being big thunderstorm and extreme weather fans my dad and myself plan on taking a trip to Florida next year so we can get a look at (and hopefully film) some of the epic storms we have all heard about there. But the problem is neither of us know anything about Florida or storm chasing in the states.

As such I was hoping someone here with experience of chasing in this region could fill me in on a few details, such as:

Where is the best place to go and when, in terms of the potency and frequency of storms?

Where is it best to stay, is it better to rent a big hotel and remain in a set zone close to it or to go on a road trip and stay at whatever places come up along the way?

What equipment should I have handy, is there anything specialist I should have that other chasers use?

Thanks.

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Posted
  • Location: Cheddington, Buckinghamshire
  • Weather Preferences: Winter: Cold & Snowy, Summer: Just not hot
  • Location: Cheddington, Buckinghamshire

If you're going in the summer prepare for horrendous - and I mean horrendous - heat and humidity. But summer is definitely the best season for storm activity IMO. I've been to Florida 4 times - 3 over Easter, once in July. We had the occasional storm at Easter but not much. July was fantastic though, witnessed easily the most intense storm I have ever seen. Not a storm chaser though so I can't really offer much advice.

Edited by Nick L
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Posted
  • Location: Watford, Hertfordshire, 68.7m ASL
  • Weather Preferences: Humid Continental Climate (Dfa / Dfb)
  • Location: Watford, Hertfordshire, 68.7m ASL

your best bet is the I4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa, if you can find some where to stay in Lakeland/Winter Haven then that would be a good starting point and probably the best base. Any time between mid june to late august is a brilliant time to go. The best thing about chasing in Florida is that its basically only a 3.5 hour drive from one side to the other so you are not far from all the action with a good road network in that area. Another good thing about chasing in florida is that its flat and you can get visual on any thing developing, a simple laptop with some radar software and internet should suffice i think you can pick up a pre paid 4g dongle for quite cheap. depending on how long the stay will determine the price you pay you can pick these up at walmart (there is a big one just outside of kissimmee). Frequency of storms varies but when I went I saw lightning roughly 11/15 days I stayed, I probably would have seen more but I had other things going on there like seeing family etc. The area between Tampa, Lakeland and Dade City is the sweet spot as it has the most lightning strikes per square mile in florida and most of the united states (apart from a place in colorado)

Edited by Mesoscale
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Posted
  • Location: Manchester
  • Location: Manchester

Having lived in Florida for a year I'd say any central part of the state- the Orlando area is great as Mesoscale says. I was in Gainesville at the University of Florida which is about as far from the coast as you can get in Florida and we had some great storms there. I'd echo what Nick L says about the heat though- it is very oppressive, particularly away from the coast where winds are lighter. Winds are often very light in Gainesville and this can make for very unpleasant conditions in the summer- often 34C with very high relative humidity and little wind to offer relief.

Also flat is an understatement- there are very few hills in the whole of the state- the highest point in Florida is only 345 feet!

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Posted
  • Location: East Renfrewshire 180m asl
  • Location: East Renfrewshire 180m asl

Interesting one as I leave for Florida in approximately 25 days - can't wait! I've been to Florida quite a lot and would say there isn't a particulay prevalent area for the best storms in my experience. I've been during one of the wettest summers ever in Florida and that had constant storms from 11am until dark. I've also been when the forest fires were really bad and it was relatively dry and saw next to nothing!

Orlando and central areas do tend to have huge amount of storms but my problem was always the number of trees in the way which stopped me seeing any great distance! The best storm I saw was a severe storm right on the west coast (Captiva Island) as I had views out over the sea at night. If you are going for Orlando then find a large lake for viewpoints although watch out for the wildlife...

I would say generally stay away from the keys. You will be very unlucky to see no storms anywhere in the state but I've had a few frustrating vists with barely any storms.

Chasing In the summer probably isn't that easy as storms cycle up and down, Paul Sherman did some chasing over there a few years ago with Gethin Jones and found that problem + the trees!

That may not have helped you with locations... I'm doing a week on Captiva and a week in Orlando although that's not for storm reasons.

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Posted
  • Location: East Devon
  • Location: East Devon

I wish I could do a storm chasing holiday, especially looking at pics from the Netweather storm chase! but I'm stupidly off to uni in September and Exam season is always right through storm chasing season the states i.e May. It doesn't help that parents don't like heat so I've never gone on holiday with them anywhere hotter than the UK in summer (and hence nowhere with a reasonable chance of seeing good storms)

Maybe I'll have to have a gap year and invent the money to go, but am sat here looking at the charts showing increasing similarities with recent summers and no signs of any Spanish plumes like we used to get bringing decent night-time displays.. Last summer had a pathetic single rumble of thunder here (heard from the bathroom!)

Anyway sorry for the little moan lol, I'd love to be going to Florida to see the storms there (as long as I had an air conditioned hotel etc as not sure how I'd cope with too much heat+humidity!) I know not a particularly useful post I don't know enough really about the distribution of storms over there.. I know they can often fire when a sea breezes from the west and east coasts meet though, wherever they do that.

Edited by Stormmad26
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Posted
  • Location: East Renfrewshire 180m asl
  • Location: East Renfrewshire 180m asl

I wish I could do a storm chasing holiday, especially looking at pics from the Netweather storm chase! but I'm stupidly off to uni in September and Exam season is always right through storm chasing season the states i.e May. It doesn't help that parents don't like heat so I've never gone on holiday with them anywhere hotter than the UK in summer (and hence nowhere with a reasonable chance of seeing good storms)

Maybe I'll have to have a gap year and invent the money to go

Why did my post post before I'd finished writing it!

You never know you may manage to get out storm chasing during Exam time, I went storm chasing for the first time during study leave and got back a day or 2 before my finals :doh::rofl:

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Posted
  • Location: East Devon
  • Location: East Devon

You never know you may manage to get out storm chasing during Exam time, I went storm chasing for the first time during study leave and got back a day or 2 before my finals doh.gifrofl.gif

Haha maybe I will, now there's an Idea! laugh.png May not do my grades too good if they are like chemistry/physics this year where I need to have the most revision time I can to get the ones I need, but I should be doing Physical Geography which I'm good at.

Anyway I've finished my post above now as I pressed something on my keyboard then it posted half-way through.

Although.. I've just remembered Netweather have done Arizona chasing in August recently! If they still do that I could maybe just find time/money to go one summer holiday! :D

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  • 2 months later...
Posted
  • Location: South Peterborough
  • Location: South Peterborough

Been to Florida a couple of times before, once in may and once in August. Only really remember the trip in August 2010 as don't remember the trip in may 06 (too young). Remember seeing a number of impressive storms in Orlando over the 2 weeks and it was very hot, but I recall it not being unbearable.

Going to Orlando on Saturday, so excited! :)

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Posted
  • Location: King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
  • Weather Preferences: Hot and Thundery, Cold and Snowy
  • Location: King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

I sooo want to go to Florida just to see the storms there. Heard they are really good around the Tampa area. Best storm I've got abroad was a brief, but intense pop up pulse storm in Majorca, which I actually got footage of :).

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Posted
  • Location: Telford, Shropshire, Orlando
  • Location: Telford, Shropshire, Orlando

Went to Florida in July 2009 for two weeks. We had a Thunderstorm every afternoon/early evening without fail. They last a couple of hours then everything clears up. We stayed in Orlando. Yes the humidity is high but I wouldn't say it's unbearable. Going back to Florida again next July. Isnt Florida known for the lightning capital of the world?

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Posted
  • Location: South East Cambridgeshire 57m ASL
  • Location: South East Cambridgeshire 57m ASL

I recall the longest thunderstorm by far I've ever seen occured when I was on Marco Island back in April 2003.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Posted
  • Location: Bangor, Northern Ireland (20m asl, near coast)
  • Weather Preferences: Any weather will do.
  • Location: Bangor, Northern Ireland (20m asl, near coast)

Went to Florida at the age of 12 in 1998. I was in weather heaven, nevermind disney heaven. Stayed in Kissimmee?....and first night on way from Airport to villa, nothing but lightning flashing in the distance everywhere. Was also a severe storm and tornado warning issued one of the nights, needless to say I was out in the thick of it, dancing and watching the lightning. Turned out that an F3 hit just 3 miles from where we were staying and I can remember images in my head of seeing a large trunk everytime a lightning bolt lit up the sky. Same year actually, I came home and witnessed a water spout off the coast of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland. Will never forget that year.

Plan on heading to Florida soon again, mainly for the storms and theme parks (I've an excuse now that I have a wee nipper), disney, etc.

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Posted
  • Location: Central Beds
  • Location: Central Beds

Went to Florida in August 2001. My goodness, they must've seen us coming!

Flew from LGW to Sanford Airport, so involved about a 60-90 minute drive to get to our villa near Kissimmee. As soon as I walked out of the airport doors, the heat just hit me and wanted to go back into the air conditioned arrivals hall immediately!

The captain didn't mention storms on arrival, however CBs were towering over the back of the terminal building. Got our hire car fine and started driving. Conditions gradually deteoriated and suddenly it had gone from day to night (it was around 3-4pm). Suddenly, we were surrounded by several cells, lightning coming from all angles. No tornado warnings. A stunning sight, if a bit scary. Large hail, a deluge of rain; driving was impossible. Cleared up a couple of hours later, but was an absolutely incredible sight - a memory that has lived with me forever.

Florida is a typical tropical region. Late afternoon thunderstorms, without fail, daily in August. Go to the Southern Asia and I assume the conditions are exactly the same?

Edited by Dan the Man
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