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Author Nancy J. Cohen discusses the writing process and life as a Florida resident.

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Changing Seasons in Florida

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on April 11, 2014

Florida’s Change of Seasons by Nancy J. Cohen

How can you tell it’s Spring in Florida? Bougainvillea burst forth in vibrant colors. Coconuts ripen on the trees. The last cold fronts of the year sweep down from the north. Then suddenly, the humidity rises and winter is over.

Flowers ElDorado Bromeliads

Yes, we have changing seasons in Florida. You have to live here to notice the subtle changes.

Trees do shed their leaves, but only certain varieties and at different times of the year. Vegetables grow in winter, not summer. Ducks and birds visit in the winter, escaping the arctic temperatures up north.

P1010484 (800x600) bird

The most distinctive changes are the wet and dry seasons. From November to May, we experience low humidity and temperate climate. Sometimes it can drop into the 40’s in South Florida, but that’s as cold as it gets. Winds bring cold fronts and chilly air down from the north.

Sunny skies, temperatures in the seventies, and cool mornings bring tourists to our coasts. Orange trees produce fruit during the winter while farmers grow tomatoes, squash, eggplants, and more. Alligators sun themselves so if you’re a gator watcher, you have a better chance in the winter to spy the creatures than the summer when water levels rise.

But everything changes in May. The humidity returns along with the heat. And then the winds change again, bringing stormy skies from the Caribbean and the Gulf northward into Florida. June to November is our hurricane season, and afternoon thunderstorms are frequent. You learn to bring an umbrella because you never know when a quick tempest will sweep by. This is the season when our lychee tree bears fruit and our banana plants thrive on the extra rainwater. Flooding is a hazard as the canal systems get overwhelmed and the groundwater table rises.

anvil2 roof

Regardless of which way the wind blows, you can play outside nearly any day in Florida or luxuriate in air-conditioned comfort. You can see flowers bloom year round and watch palm fronds sway in a balmy breeze. If we give up snow and ice or daffodils and dogwoods for this privilege, it’s worth the sacrifice. Florida has its own change of seasons that must be appreciated accordingly.

azaleas lake   FLLbeach

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Nancy is the author of 20 romance and mystery novels. She writes the humorous Bad Hair Day mystery series and the paranormal Drift Lords series and is a HOLT Medallion winner. Many of her stories are centered in Florida. http://nancyjcohen.com

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18 Responses to “Changing Seasons in Florida”

  1. I guess being born in Vermont, I still miss those season changes. But, six months of snow. Not so much!

  2. Hywela Lyn said

    Beautiful pictures Nancy. Our flowers aren’t quite as exotic here in the UK but after a wretched rainy winter, at last spring has arrived and the spring bulbs are looking pretty and the trees are coming into leaf again.

  3. Marcia said

    Your post reminds me why Florida has 3 (and 4 according to some) planting zones. Your year is very different from mine, just north of Orlando. We have actual freezes in the winter, even in mild ones. This year, my birdbath had ice in it three times, even though it was much warmer than it was last year. Plenty of days in the 20’s and 30’s, though it usually warmed up to the 50’s or 60’s by afternoon. We have enormous leaf falls twice a year, with the biggest one being in the spring. The oak trees bury our entire drive, and we are gathering it up for garden mulch. Many of my garden plants die all the way to the ground here, just like the do in the north, only most of them don’t come back. :) We do grow our vegetables in the winter, like in your part of the state, and some flowers (pansies, violas, petunias, nasturtiums) are winter bloomers and gone by late spring.

    One big difference is the alligators. We don’t see them in the winter, unless it is a very warm day. They go down deep and hide to stay warm. But by now, they are showing up everywhere again, and getting active as breeding season approaches. It was a red letter day a few weeks ago when my garden black racer slithered across my brick path, where he had been basking in the sun. I hadn’t seen any of my yard snakes in about 3 months.

    We get migrating birds in fall and spring, but the best thing about spring would be the huge flocks of goldfinches heading north to breed. They arrive at my house all dull gray-brown with black markings, and by the time they leave 4 to 6 weeks later, they have molted into their brilliant yellow and black summer finery. Bougainvillea freezes to the ground here every winter, except the most mild, and never gets more than 5 or 6 feet tall before the next winter comes and freezes it back again. I quit growing it. I now only by shrubs that are labeled cold hardy, because I get tired of replacing hibiscus, allamanda, and other tropicals. They simply can’t make it here for very long.

    One thing that is the same is that by now, spring is gone, too, and we have slammed into summer. Today was 91 degrees here, already. I can’t bear to think about how miserable July and August are going to be. Our summer electric bills are more than three times our winter ones. We never, ever turn on the heat, even when it goes down in the 20’s outside. We just light the fire, and wear a sweater, if need be. Usually the fire does it. And we have an electric blanket on the bed. My husband says he pays a ton of money to freeze all summer (to keep me cool enough) and he wants to freeze for FREE in the winter, haha. But it never gets that cold inside. It takes our house 2 or 3 days to cool down, and by then, any cold snap is usually gone.

    And the funny thing is, people who live in Jacksonville, or my daughter in the panhandle…well, they think I’M living in the hot part of the state. It’s another game yet again for them. Yep, we are a state divided into weather zones, all right. And what works in one doesn’t work in another. Nice to read about what it’s like way down yonder where you live! :)

    • Marcia said

      Please forgive any typos, Nancy. Since my cataract surgery ruined the only eye I use, I’m struggling to read what I type! Sorry.

    • Marcia, your descriptions are lovely. It’s true that weather variations occur across the state. That goes for hurricanes, too. The panhandle and west coast seem to get slammed more than here (knock wood!). I wouldn’t care to live where it gets into the 20’s, even for short periods. Our mornings now are still cool enough for a pleasant walk before the sun gets too high.

      • Marcia said

        Thanks, Nancy. Luckily for me, I love cold weather. Okay, not really lucky, as nine months of the year, it’s hotter than blue blazes in Orlando. It’s like a heat sink, here, without those ocean breezes to help. If I had my way, I’d be on a mountain in North Carolina, but my husband is adamant we stay here. I love winter, and I love the Blue Ridge mountains, even though I’m a native-born Floridian. There are lots of things I enjoy about Florida, mostly centered on the wild and scenic rivers, with the attendant animals and birds that populate them. But I have a visceral connection to the mountains that calls to me all the time. (It’s why I set my first book there, and am just now writing one set in Florida. :) )

        It’s the Gulf of Mexico that pulls those hurricanes into the west coast and panhandle areas. Maybe the warmer, more shallow water does it? I will say that in 2004, six months after we bought this house, we took direct hits from all four hurricanes that year, with Charley pushing over one of our giant laurel oaks until it was leaning across our house! Luckily we were able to have it take down before it fell on us. That was the year that was! Charley, Frances, and two more really slammed across central Florida, with Charley passing directly over us as we sat huddled in the dark, listening to branches coming down on our roof. Fortunately, it was moving FAST and in 30 minutes had passed us by and was reaching the Atlantic. In all my years (70 of ‘em), I’ve never seen 4 hurricanes hit one area, mere weeks apart. And I hope I never do again. :shock:

        If you look at Florida on a gardener’s map, it is divided into three to to four distinct planting zones, so people who say “I’m moving to Florida. What can I grow there?” have to be a lot more specific. :D Glad you love it down there in the far, far south. I lived in Ft. Lauderdale when I was a sweet, young thing, and it was fun at the time. But I can’t take one more degree of heat than I live with now these days. (These days meaning for the last thirty years!) I’m hoping a trip to Chimney Rock, NC, is in my future soon. I need the restorative balm of those ancient rolling hills like some people need a day at the beach. :)

        • I remember those four hurricanes. We were on our way to wedding in Atlanta and stopping in Orlando to pick up our daughter, in school there at the time. The traffic was so bad it took us 7 hours instead of 4 hours and we gave up. We booked a hotel room when the hurricane hit and stayed there for several das. That might have been Frances.

          • Marcia said

            I’m still trying to think of the other 2. Maybe Irene? And Ivan? No, there wouldn’t have been 2 I’s the same year. Ivan and Jeanne? That was ten years ago, and it was pretty bad. I remember Charley was the most powerful, but it moved across the state really fast and headed out to see. Frances was weaker, but with tons of rain, and very, very slow moving, dumping rain for days. That was the Year of the Blue Tarps! Glad you were able to find a safe place to stay. A hurricane is no laughing matter.

  4. You forgot that it snowed here in 1977. The snow lasted a minute or two. Jan

  5. Hi, Nancy
    Thanks for hopping on my blog. I’m embarrassed because I didn’t say a dang thing about spring…forgot. I appreciate your taking me up on my topic. Sounds like you like to write about what you don’t know, as well. Enjoyed your explanation of Florida’s climate. I left Seattle because of the rain…love CA for the gorgeous blossoms/greenery much like Florida!

    • Southern CA can be even nicer than here with our humidity. I lived in San Francisco for a year and it was foggy and windy much of the time, plus I missed the greenery on the east coast.

  6. I love visiting Florida. When I was a kid, my family use to go every year around Easter. I’ve been there when it’s been cold and when it’s been warm. I hope to retire there some day in the future. Winters in Wisconsin are getting harder and harder every year.

  7. bn100 said

    the beaches

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  8. The winner of the prize drawing as selected by Random.org is Susan Jaymes. Please contact me with your email address. Thank you to everyone who visited my blog.

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