Visual Crossing Blog

Will the weather be nice on my vacation?

Past weather records can help us understand the typical weather conditions we can expect for a vacation spot

The Summer might may be drawing to a close but there is still time to squeeze in a vacation before the weather turns colder and it is more suitable for skiing than sunbathing outside. Planning a fall vacation can be extremely rewarding but one of the most important questions that arises typically is, "Can you expect the weather to be nice?"

Earlier in the year, we wrote about using weather records to look at past weather. This can help us understand what weather we might expect in the future. In this article, we use the newly released Weather Event Planner to automatically analyze historical weather data records to predict the weather that we can expect at our proposed vacation destination based on historical and daily patterns. This new weather planner takes the complexity out of using climate patterns to make useful, long-term weather predictions.

Using past weather to predict the future

Computer model-based weather forecasts are only accurate for the next 5-10 days depending upon the complexity of the model and the amount of input data available. But planning a vacation typically involves understanding the possible weather conditions months in advance. So what can we do? Not only do we need specific predictions, we also need to know the range of weather patterns that we might encounter. For example, it is useful to know that the typical range of temperatures for an given day is 65 to 85 degrees F. That can make for a pleasant vacation. However, it may be critical to know that some years, the temperature at this time can suddenly fall into the 40s. Even that risk may cause us to rethink our plans, or at least have backup plans for some activities

To do this, Visual Crossing Weather Event Planner analyzes historical weather records for our intended vacation destination. To illustrate the benefit, let's consider three possible destinations for our fall vacation - Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Miami, Florida. Let's also assume we are looking to go in the first half of October, around the 7th of the month.

Using the weather event planner to understand the expected weather on our vacation

We'll use the Weather Event Planner to find the expected weather for each possible destination. To do so, we enter the location and the approximate date and the tool analyzes the last 30 years worth of historical weather data and runs the results through various statistical processes to identify the expected weather patterns.

The first step is to enter the location and date into the prompt:

Enter the city and proposed vacation date to retrieve the weather summary
Enter the city and proposed vacation date to retrieve the weather summary

No year is necessary because the tool will look across many years of data to find past weather events and averages. Note that the tool does not only look at the single date specified, the 7th of October. In addition, the tool will look at days around that date as well because those dates will have very similar weather patterns. The more days’ worth of data that can be used, the more accurate the results will be.

What will the weather be like in Cape Cod, Massachusetts?

We can now immediately see the results of the dashboard. Here are the results for Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. If you would like to run it for yourself, the interactive version of the same dashboard can be found here.

Expected weather for Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts in early October
Expected weather for Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts in early October.

The Weather Event Planner dashboard breaks the results into three sections - a summary section, a detailed daily section and a detailed hourly chart.

The summary section shows that the normal high temperature for Cape Cod, Massachusetts in early October is 67F and the normal low is 48F. The chance of precipitation is 9% (ie it rains on approximately one of every ten days). The wind and humidity are low.

The detailed daily section helps us to identify how variable the weather is and show what is the worst and best weather we could expect. The temperature bar shows a normal range of 60-72F for a daily high. On one day out of an average week, the temperatures are likely to be less than 60F and on another day, the temperatures are expected to be higher than 72F. The coldest that Cape Cod, Massachusetts has ever reached at this time of year is 52F for a high and warmest is 85F.

The hourly chart shows that it is typically warmest in early afternoon and that the rain is spread evenly throughout the day. As we will see later, in some cities the rain can be concentrated to certain times of the day.

The most it has ever rained at the start of October is 1.4" but it rains on less than one day per week. So we are likely to see dry conditions on our proposed trip.

What will the weather be like in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina?

Here are the results for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. If you would like to run it for yourself, the interactive version of the same dashboard can be found here.

	Expected weather for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in early October
Expected weather for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in early October.

Myrtle Beach is warmer than Cape Cod and has a typical high temperature of 78F at this time of year. The normal temperature range is between 72-83F for a daily high. The warmest it has ever reached is 96F and the lowest is 59F

Rainfall is also fairly infrequent in Myrtle Beach in early October. On average it rains about one day per week. The afternoon is the warmest time of the day. When it does rain, the likelihood is spread fairly evenly throughout the day.

What will the weather be like in Miami, Florida?

Here are the results for Miami, Florida. If you would like to run it for yourself, the interactive version of the same dashboard can be found here.

Expected weather for Miami, Florida in early October
Expected weather for Miami, Florida in early October.

Miami is quite different from our first two possible destinations. The average daily high of 85 is significantly warmer than either Massachusetts or South Carolina. In addition, the chance of rain is significantly higher. It typically rains two days out of three!

When considering this destination, both the higher temperatures and the higher chance of precipitation are important. However, it is useful to note that the temperature range is fairly tight and thus more predictable. In this case, the normal high temperature is in a range of about 4F vs. more than 10F for our other locations above. It is also interesting to note that he highest temperature measured in the years analyzed was actually cooler than Myrtle Beach at just 89F.

If we look at the hourly view of the precipitation, we see that the rainfall is not evenly spread. There is a significantly higher chance of rain in the late afternoon and early evening. So even though there are many more rain days, the rainfall is in a relatively predictable time range. This can be a big help in planning outdoor activities. Also, the consistently warmer weather makes the beach forecast a lot more inviting! Note also that the higher rainfall probably contributes to the consistently more humid weather experienced in Miami.

Which destination should I choose for my fall vacation?

If you are looking for reliably warm beach weather in early October Miami appears to be the winner. Just don't forget about those rain showers and thunderstorms that popup after five in the afternoon. Myrtle Beach offers slightly cooler temperatures but with significantly lower rain chance.

If you've suffered a long, hot summer, then the winner may be the most northerly destination of Cape Cod. You can still expect a dry vacation and those cooler temperatures may offer a welcome respite from the heat of the summer.

Try to find your perfect vacation destination weather

If you are planning your next vacation or any other event, find out what weather you can expect by using the Visual Crossing Weather Event Planner. It brings decades of detailed climate data and computer analysis to bear on the problem of long-range weather forecasting. While weather prediction is never an exact science, having good data and powerful tools on your side will always help you get better results and make better plans. Luckily, the Weather Event Planner is so easy to use, that you can consider dozens of options in a few minutes.