Miami Rainy Season Safety
Helpful tips for getting caught in a rainstorm
Summer in Miami has the most unpredictable weather you can imagine! You’ll be sunbathing on the beach one minute, then running for cover from a violent thunderstorm the next. Rainy season usually starts in mid-May and ends in October. Intense summer heat builds up over the Everglades, causing afternoon downpours in Miami. Usually the rain doesn’t last long, but every now and then a storm comes along that no one’s quite prepared for.
Here are 5 tips for getting around during a rainstorm in case you find yourself caught outside.
1. Walking in the rain
As Miami Beach is only 3 feet above sea level, the streets can quickly flood after the rain starts. If you’ve decided to move to the beach for the summer, some rain boots would make a very wise investment, as even when the rain has stopped, the floodwaters take time to drain away. The floodwater is dirty, so don’t walk in it bare foot, as the water can cause infection. Another good reason to avoid walking in floodwater is that you can’t see where you’re walking. If the flooding is bad there’ll be debris in the water and it’s common to see tree branches and other items that could hurt you. I’ve seen trash cans, car bumpers, and once even an entire car float by me during one particularly bad storm.
2. Driving in the rain
No one plans to drive during a rain storm, but in South Florida, it’s simply unavoidable. If you’re out in your car during a heavy storm, you may want to pull over until the rain stops. If you do, look for a street that’s not flooded or a covered parking lot you can pull into. Gas stations are another option, as they’re usually slightly raised above street level. If you’re driving through floodwater, stay in the middle of the road where the floodwater is shallowest. You should also never slow down or stop. If you do, your car will stall. Always barrel through deep water… Think of Noah parting the Red Sea! If your car does stall, don’t try to start it again until all the floods have drained away and your car has had a few hours to dry out. You may want to get it checked by a garage, as flood water is mixed with sea water and the salt can rust parts of the engine.
Before rainy season starts, make sure to check your windshield wipers to ensure they can cope with heavy rain. Typically wiper blades last about a year in Miami. If the rubber has deteriorated, replace them immediately. A bottle of Rain-X is also a good product to have on hand, as it forces water to bead and roll off your windshield.
It’s always a good idea to keep a few storm essentials in the trunk of your car, including a bathing suit, sandals or rain boots, as well as a towel and umbrella. Also, keep plastic bags in the glove compartment to protect your phone and camera. If you do decide to leave your car, these items will come in very handy.
3. Thunder and Lightning
Usually when the rain is approaching we get some warning with a rumble of thunder and a flash of lightning. South Florida sees more thunderstorms and lightning than anywhere else in the United States. In Miami, approximately 10 people are injured every year. Lightning is electricity that is discharged from a cloud, and it will take the shortest path to ground, striking the tallest object. To protect yourself during a storm, stay away from open areas like parks or golf courses, as you’ll be the tallest thing out there—and a target. Do not take shelter under trees, as they’re easily struck—and the electricity can jump over to you. Lastly, don’t go swimming in the pool or ocean. Water is a conductor and you’re at risk. Miami-Dade swimming pools and parks will close if there is lightning in the vicinity, as a precaution.
During and after the storm, fallen power lines are a major hazard. Debris can hide power lines that have fallen, and trees that contain energized power lines can electrocute any item they come into contact with, such as metal fences or standing water. Even the ground can be energized near fallen power lines. Take extra precaution while walking in the rain near a fallen line that has made contact with standing water, as you don’t have to actually touch the wire to be injured. You can be badly burned even while standing a few feet away because the wet ground can transmit electricity from the wires
4. Waiting for the storm to pass
If you can hear the thunder in the distance and see dark skies approaching, act fast. It’s always best to wait out the storm indoors. If you’re driving your car, try to find a place to wait until the rain passes, and keep in mind our advice from earlier. Turn on the weather channel for more information, and don’t ignore the warnings! I learned this lesson the hard way, as during one particularly bad storm, I ignored the tornado and flood warnings on TV and tried to drive home before the storm hit. I ended up knee-deep in water and my friend’s car was a write off.
5. Fun things to do when it rains
Not everyone realizes Miami even has a rainy season when they’re planning a summer vacation, and many are shocked to see sunny skies abruptly turn dark grey, dumping three feet of water on the streets within minutes. But don’t let it ruin your day, there are plenty of things to do here on a rainy afternoon! There’s great shopping on Lincoln Road, but if it’s under water, you can go to an indoor alternative, like Aventura Mall, for the day.
If you ask me, the best thing to do in Miami on a rainy day is to come take a tour with us at Miami Tour Company. We offer an award-winning Miami City Tour and an Everglades Eco Adventure. You can also take a Boat Tour around Miami on a double-decker yacht. The upper deck has an awning to protect you from the rain, and the lower level is air-conditioned, enclosed in picture windows.
Miami rain storms can happen without warning and leave streets flooded for hours—but don’t worry, the sun will be out again before you know it!
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