Climate of Miami

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Typical summer afternoon shower rolling in from the Everglades.
Miami
Climate chart (explanation)
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: NOAA/NWS

Miami has a tropical monsoon climate (Köppen climate classification Am)[1] with hot and humid summers and short, warm winters, with a marked drier season in the winter. Its sea-level elevation, coastal location, position just above the Tropic of Cancer, and proximity to the Gulf Stream shapes its climate. With January averaging 68.2 °F (20.1 °C), winter features mild to warm temperatures; cool air usually settles after the passage of a cold front, which produces much of the little amount of rainfall. Lows sometimes fall to or below 50 °F (10 °C), with an average 10 such occurrences annually,[2] but very rarely 36 °F (2 °C); from 1981 to 2010, temperatures reached that level in only eight calendar years.[3] Highs generally reach 70 °F (21 °C), and fail to do so on an average 12 days annually.[2] The wet season begins some time in May, ending in mid-October. During this period, temperatures are in the mid 80s to low 90s (29–35 °C), accompanied by high humidity, though the heat is often relieved by afternoon thunderstorms or a sea breeze that develops off the Atlantic Ocean, which then allow lower temperatures, but conditions still remain very muggy. Much of the year's 61.9 inches (1,570 mm) of rainfall occurs during this period.

Extreme temperatures range from 27 °F (−2.8 °C) on February 3, 1917 to 100 °F (38 °C) on July 21, 1942, the triple-digit (°F) reading on record;[4] the last freezing temperature seen at Miami Int'l Airport was on Christmas Day 1989.[3] The highest daily minimum temperature is 84 °F (29 °C) on August 4, 1993 and September 7, 1897 (although the corresponding record for Miami Beach is 90 °F / 32 °C on July 17, 2001), and conversely, the lowest daily maximum temperature is 45 °F (7 °C) on February 19, 1900. Miami has never recorded any accumulating snowfall although there were dubious claims of snow flurries on January 19, 1977.[5] Weather conditions for the area around Miami were recorded sporadically from 1839 until 1900, with many years-long gaps. A cooperative temperature and rainfall recording site was established in what is now Downtown in December, 1900. An official Weather Bureau Office was opened in Miami in June 1911.[6] Heavy snow squalls with accumulations that lasted for a few hours after the snow had stopped falling in February 1899 were reported, but these are not official since there is no written record of it.

Miami receives abundant rainfall, one of the highest among major U.S. cities. Most of this rainfall occurs from mid-May through early October. It has an average annual rainfall of 61.9 inches (1,570 mm), whereas nearby Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach receive 66.5 inches (1,690 mm) and 51.7 inches (1,310 mm), respectively, which demonstrates the high local variability in rainfall rates.[3]

Miami reports more Thunderstorms than most U S cities, with about eighty days per year having thunder reported. These storms are often strong, with frequent lightning and very heavy rain. Occasionally, they can be severe with damaging straight line winds and large hail. Tornadoes and Waterspouts sometimes occur, although violent tornadoes of the type seen in other parts of the U S are rare in Florida.


This chart shows the average coastal ocean water temperature by month in degrees Fahrenheit for Miami Beach based on historical[when?] measurements.[10]

January February March April 1−15 April 16−30 May 1−15 May 16−31 June 1−15 June 16−30 July 1−15 July 16−31 August 1−15 August 16−31 September 1−15 September 16−30 October 1−15 October 16−31 November December
71 73 75 78 78 80 81 84 85 86 86 86 84 84 83 83 79 76 73

Hurricanes[edit]

The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, although hurricanes can develop beyond those dates. The most likely time for Miami to be hit is during the peak of the Cape Verde season which is mid-August through the end of September.[11] Due to its location between two major bodies of water known for tropical activity, Miami is also statistically the most likely major city in the world to be struck by a hurricane, trailed closely by Nassau, Bahamas, and Havana, Cuba. Despite this, the city has been fortunate in not having a direct hit by a hurricane since Hurricane Cleo in 1964.[12] However, many other hurricanes have affected the city, namely the Great Miami Hurricane in 1926, Betsy in 1965, Andrew in 1992, Irene in 1999, and Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005. At least 35 direct and 26 indirect deaths in Florida were attributed to Wilma.

In addition, a tropical depression in October 2001 passed over the city, causing record rainfall and flooding. Locally, the storm is credited as the No Name Storm of 2000, though the depression went on to become Tropical Storm Leslie upon entering the Atlantic Ocean.

A hurricane, known as the "Great Miami Hurricane of 1926," caused catastrophic damage to the heavily developed Miami and Miami Beach area. Hurricane Betsy passed over Key Largo, south of the city, but did cause hurricane force winds and very heavy rainfall there. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 also struck south of city and caused extensive damage and flooding in the Homestead area suburbs. Hurricane Wilma in 2005 caused severe damage to many high-rise buildings in the downtown area as it broke many windows out, which in turn caused bad water damage on the insides of the buildings. It also caused at least 35 direct and 26 indirect fatalities in Florida.

Miami has been identified as one of three cities in the United States most vulnerable to hurricanes, mainly due to its location and it being surrounded by ocean and low-lying coastal plains, the other two cities being New Orleans and New York City.[13]

Typical winter day in Miami

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Official records for Miami were kept at the Lemon City from September 1895 to November 1900, the Miami COOP from December 1900 to May 1911, the Weather Bureau Office from June 1911 to February 1937, at various locations in and around the city from March 1937 to July 1942, and at Miami Int'l since August 1942. For more information, see ThreadEx.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World Map of Köppen−Geiger Climate Classification". 
  2. ^ a b "Station Name: FL MIAMI INTL AP". NOAA. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2011-12-14. 
  4. ^ "Lowest Temperature of Record". National Weather Service. 
  5. ^ Howard Kleinberg (December 30, 1989). "The Great Miami Snow Job". The Dispatch. Retrieved September 23, 2010. 
  6. ^ "History of National Weather Service Forecast Office-Miami, Florida". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  7. ^ "Station Name: FL MIAMI INTL AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2014-05-26. 
  8. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for Miami, FL 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Monthly Averages for Miami International Airport". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  10. ^ Charles Sun. "US NODC Coastal Water Temperature Guide". Nodc.noaa.gov. Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  11. ^ "Vulnerable cities: Miami, Florida". The Weather Channel. Archived from the original on 2006-04-27. Retrieved 2006-02-19. 
  12. ^ "Miami, Florida's history with tropical systems". Hurricane City. Retrieved 2006-02-19. 
  13. ^ Tidwell, Mike (2006). The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America's Coastal Cities. Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-9470-X.