Skip to main content
Skip to main content

The Florida Climate Center serves as the primary resource for climate data, information, and services in the state of Florida.

Learn more

The Florida Climate Center achieves its mission by providing climate monitoring, research, and expertise to be applied by the people, institutions, and businesses of Florida and the surrounding region.

We provide direct service by fulfilling requests for climate and weather data and information in a variety of formats.

We perform research that advances the understanding of the climate variability and changes of Florida and the surrounding region.

We provide outreach in presentations and at events aimed at a variety of groups, interests, and ages.

Prepared by Florida Climate Center
The Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL

Download PDF

Average temperatures in September 2020 were above average across most of the state. Departures from normal ranged from +0.3 ̊F in Tallahassee to +1.6 ̊F in Key West (Table 1). Stuart observed its warmest September on record and Plant City tied for its warmest September on record. Key West observed its second warmest September while Sarasota observed its third warmest September on record (additional departures are provided in the appendix). In addition, two record low high temperatures occurred in the Pensacola area, including a record low high of 77 ̊F on the 15th, which tied the previous record on this date set back in 1945, and a record low high of 69 ̊F on the 20th, which was well below the previous record of 76 ̊F set on this date back in 1929, according to the National Weather Service. Much of Florida experienced above average minimum temperatures throughout the month, with record high average minimum temperatures set in Miami, Perrine, and Plant City.

Table 1.  September average temperatures and departures from normal ( ̊F) for selected cities.

Station Mean Temperature Departure from Normal
Pensacola 78.8 +0.4
Tallahassee 79.0 +0.3
Jacksonville 78.8 +0.6
Orlando 82.0 +1.3
Tampa 82.9 +0.9
Miami 83.9 +1.2
Key West 85.6 +1.6  


Rainfall totals in September were mostly above normal across the state, especially in the western panhandle. Pensacola had its wettest September on record with 18.51 inches of rain due to Hurricane Sally, which made landfall as a category 2 storm on September 16 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Figure 1 below shows Sally’s impact across the western Panhandle. The majority of Pensacola’s rain (11.85 inches) fell on the 16th, which became a new 1-day record and the top monthly 1-day record rainfall. Key West observed its 9th wettest September on record. Departures from normal for the month ranged from +12.53” in Pensacola to -0.82” in Tampa (Table 2 and Figure 1).

Table 2. September precipitation totals and departures from normal (inches) for selected cities.

Station Total Rainfall Departure from Normal
Pensacola 18.51 +12.53
Tallahassee 9.56 +4.87
Jacksonville 8.81 +0.62
Orlando 10.74 +4.68
Tampa 5.48 -0.82
Miami 10.93 +1.07
Key West 12.21 +5.78 



Figure 1. A graphical depiction of the monthly rainfall departure from normal (inches) for September 2020 (courtesy of NOAA, NWS).

Figure 1.  A graphical depiction of the monthly rainfall departure from normal (inches) for September 2020 (courtesy of NOAA, NWS).


La Niña Conditions Continue in the Pacific.

During August, the Climate Prediction Center issued a La Niña Advisory, as La Niña conditions emerged in August with sea surface temperatures (SST) dipping below average across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. La Niña conditions persisted through the month of September and are expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere 2020-21 winter season (approximately 85% chance). La Niña winters tend to favor warm and dry conditions in the southern tier of the U.S. Expect a drying pattern following the end of the 2020 hurricane season.


Hazardous Weather Events in September.

There were 402 reports of hazardous weather events recorded in Florida during the month of September (see table 4 for a breakdown by event type). Hurricane Sally, which made landfall on September 16 in Gulf Shores, Alabama, impacted much of the state with continuous thunderstorms from September 12-16. Sally caused heavy rainfall in South Florida and the Florida Keys, with over 10 inches recorded in Key West. However, the Panhandle area received the brunt of the impacts. Tiger Point received 36 inches of rain; Pensacola received nearly 17 inches of rain from the storm with catastrophic flooding. Storm surge heights reached 5.6 feet. The storm damaged a section of the Pensacola Bay Bridge and a water main break occurred in Pensacola Beach.


Table 4. Breakdown of storm reports submitted in Florida during the month of September. (Compiled from Iowa State University/Iowa Environmental Mesonet.)

Report Type Number of Reports
Coastal Flood 36
Flash Flood 86
Flood 26
Heavy Rain 65
Marine Thunderstorm Wind 49
Non-Thunderstorm Wind Damage 2
Non-Thunderstorm Wind Gust 44
Tornados/Waterspouts/Funnel Clouds 3/23/2
Thunderstorm Wind Damage 19
Thunderstorm Wind Gust 42
Lightning 1
High Tide 2
Storm Surge 2


Drought-Related Impacts.

During the month of September, drought did not impact any part of the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. In August, abnormally dry conditions affected west-central Florida, but by early September these abnormally dry conditions dissipated. Drought-free conditions are expected to remain in the short term, but La Niña conditions are expected to lead to the onset of a winter dry pattern.

As of October 1, the Lake Okeechobee water level was at 15.56 ft. above sea level (Feet-NGVD29), which is slightly above average for this time of the year. At the beginning of September, the water level was at 14.37 ft. above sea level.


drought monitor


Agriculture-Related Impacts.

By mid-September, topsoil moisture levels were adequate in 68% of the state, short in 3%, very short in 1%, and 28% of the state was in surplus. By the end of the month, after passage of Hurricane Sally, topsoil moisture levels were adequate in most (77%) of the state, short in 2%, and 21% of the state had a surplus. For more information, consult the weekly Crop Progress and Condition reports published by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.


Appendix 1
Additional September departures from normal data for Florida locations (Source: NWS).

Station Average Temperature (˚F) Departure from Normal (˚F) Total Rainfall (in.) Departure from Normal (in.)
Gainesville 79.1 +0.9 7.60 +3.18
Sarasota 83.2 +1.8 7.83 +0.73
Melbourne 81.8 +1.2 7.10 -0.54
Fort Myers 82.8 +0.7 14.10 +5.55

2000 Levy Avenue
Building A, Suite 292
Tallahassee, FL 32306-2741
Phone: (850) 644-3417 | (850) 644-0719

© Florida Climate Center
Florida Climate Center