Florida residents and Guests at Disney World are being warned about a serious threat to anyone visiting the Resort’s four theme parks this week.
More than 22 million people call the state of Florida home, making the Sunshine State the second-most populated state in the Union, surpassed only by the state of Texas with more than 29 million residents, and followed by New York, which boasts more than 19 million residents. More than 8 million Floridians make their homes in Central Florida, which includes the counties of Orange and Osceola, where the Walt Disney World Resort is located.
In 2022, Florida welcomed more than 137 million visitors–a record for the state. And in the first three months of 2023, Florida hosted 37.9 million visitors–another record for the state, which boasts a nearly $102 billion tourism industry, thanks in part to the many theme park resorts and other tourist destinations located in the area.
But while the Sunshine State is at the top of the list when it comes to popular family vacation destinations in the United States, the state is not without its dangers–both natural and manmade. You don’t have to live in Florida to know that the state is home to several species of snakes–some that are venomous, like coral snakes, rattlesnakes, and water moccasins. And the countless bodies of water found throughout Florida often double as hangouts for crocodiles. Though they are rare, crocodile attacks on humans have happened in Florida–the most notable incident in recent years having taken place near the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Because Florida is a coastal state, it is often in the direct path of dangerous hurricanes–some of which have caused billions of dollars in damage, as well as loss of lives over the years. But an even more frequently occurring threat lurks within the state of Florida–one without the bells, whistles, and news coverage of an Atlantic hurricane, one that attacks its victims quickly and nearly silently, and one that some people–residents and tourists alike–don’t seem to take seriously.
Because Florida is a peninsula, bound by water on three sides–the Gulf of Mexico to the west, the Straits of Florida to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east–moisture plays a big role in Florida’s climate and weather patterns. July and August are the warmest months in Florida, with average temperatures hovering at 90 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit. And though those temperatures aren’t like the triple-digit heat experienced by residents of other states like Texas and Arizona, the humidity in Florida wreaks havoc on unsuspecting visitors–especially on Guests at the Central Florida Disney Parks, where enjoying all the Resort has to offer requires being outdoors for a significant amount of time.
Though temperatures at Disney World during the Florida summers can exceed 90 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat index, or “real feel” temperatures, can be much higher. In late July 2023, Disney World Guests experienced very warm temperatures and even warmer heat index values–values that often reached and sometimes exceeded 110 degrees Fahrenheit. And the excitement, the busyness, and thoughts of how much is being spent on a Disney vacation can often cloud Guests’ memory about the dire need to stay hydrated throughout the day.
But August looks to take the crown from July when it comes to high heat index values in Central Florida. Central Florida meteorologist Brian Shields tweeted about the “serious heat” forecast for the week of August 7, 2023, calling it the “hottest week of the year” and cautioning those in the area to use caution.
Hottest week of the year — please use caution. This is serious heat, even by Florida standards🔥 pic.twitter.com/DO8UsN3ht1
— Brian Shields (@BrianWeather) August 7, 2023
The warning is just the latest in a string of warnings and advisories this summer in Central Florida, as large swaths of the southern United States have been in a seemingly endless heat wave since early June 2023.
This week’s forecast includes daily high temperatures as high as 97 degrees Fahrenheit and heat index values as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Floridians and visitors to the state have already seen heat index values of nearly 100 degrees after midnight, as reported by LocalConditions.com. During the day, as heat from the sun beats down on Florida, those values will increase dramatically, putting visitors at the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and other vacation destinations at greater risk for heat exposure, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
A Heat Advisory has been issued by the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida, for Central Florida for the early part of the week, and more advisories are expected.
7PM | The heat advisory has expired, however it is still oppressive with heat index values around 105 in many places. Very slow cooling is expected this evening.
Another heat advisory is in effect on Tuesday afternoon for similar conditions.#FLwx
— NWS Melbourne (@NWSMelbourne) August 7, 2023
The National Weather Service urges those in the affected area to take the risks of heat-related illnesses seriously and suggests the following:
Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 911.