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Weather: Climate & the ARROW Region
How the climate has shaped the region…and how the region has shaped the climate

What's the difference between weather and climate?

Weather is the day-to-day variation in atmospheric conditions and events, such as temperature, rainfall, and humidity. Climate measures the same conditions, but on a longer time scale (a month or more).

Latitudinally speaking, Florida should be a desert. It's in the "Great Desert Belt" of the planet, which includes the Sahara, Arabian, Thar, and Sonoran deserts of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and Mexico, respectively. So why is Florida the second-most-rained-on state in the nation, after Louisiana? The primary reason is that Florida is surrounded on three sides by water. Sunshine heats land faster than it heats water, and the warmer, less dense air over the land rises, pulling in cooler, denser air pushed inland by breezes from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This allows air masses of different densities to mix, resulting in clouds and rain.

Within Florida, the Panhandle usually gets more rainfall per year than any other part of the state. This is due to the added influence of fronts, which are lines of collision between two masses of air with different temperatures and humidities. These fronts start out as far away as Alaska, and they bring rain to northwest Florida but don't often go any farther south. Within the Apalachicola region, more rain generally falls within a few miles of the coast than farther inland.


Henry, J.A., K.M. Portier, and J. Coyne. 1994. The climate and weather of Florida. Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Florida.

National Climatic Data Center. 2002. Monthly Station Normals of Temperature, Precipitation, and Heating and Cooling Degree Days 1971 – 2000. 08 Florida. Climatography of the United States No. 81. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC. Available at U.S. Climate Normals.

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This page was last modified on : 03/10/2005

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