Summer on the Island

When many Northerners think of Florida, they think of a place with a pretty consistent climate and weather pattern — we are the Sunshine State, after all.

2015-07-10 20.23.24But we do have a dry season in the winter and a wet season in the summer. And if you’ve gotten caught in one of our daily thunderstorms this year, you know that we’re well into our rainy season. And, of course, it’s hot.

When I first moved to Fort Myers Beach as a teenager, we had no air conditioning. You just dealt with the heat until the rains started around 4 p.m. Then after a brief shower, you watched the steam coming off the roads and could breathe a little easier. Eventually, we got a wall unit and I remember that being a really big deal.

Now, air conditioning is a necessity for us all. So we’re certainly a lot cooler than we used to be, but we still have the afternoon rains to look forward to every day.

Fortunately for us, we’ve gotten better at mosquito control and water management. I remember standing outside when the DC-3 mosquito planes would fly over and standing in a cloud of malathion. Fortunately, they’ve developed better and more environmentally friendly ways to help us deal with summer’s mosquito population and we’re no longer left standing in chemical clouds.

I also remember driving from the beach to Fort Myers when I was a kid — A Friday night date often meant navigating the flooded road left behind from the summer rains. U.S. 41 was often un-drivable because of the sheet flow.

But I still think summer is the best time of year in Southwest Florida. It really showcases the tropical-ness of the region we live in. Everything has turned a lush green and the growing season is under way — in fact, I think we all have a bumper crop of mangoes this year.

The rains also bring us a daily symphony of frog calls and croaks. The trilling and the tinkling and all the different calls they make as they search for mates is a wonderful thing to listen to — and you certainly don’t hear that up north in the summer. (Learn more about our local frogs and their calls at FrogWatch.net. This group monitors our amphibian friends.)

But as much as I love the summer here — it really is my favorite time of the year — it’s also storm season, which means that there are a few things that homeowners need to think about. If you’re new to our summers or thinking of buying a home here, you should keep summer rainy seasons in mind and consider:

  • The age of your roof. If you’re buying or living in a home with a roof that is more than 20 years old, you definitely want to have it inspected and might want to consider replacing it. After Hurricane Charley — which caused considerable damage to houses here on Pine Island even though it passed over us pretty quickly — we had two solid weeks of rain. So even if a roof survived the initial storm, many started leaking during the subsequent storms.
  • Surge protection for your home. Back in the day, we all had one TV with one channel. Today, let’s face it, we have a lot of electronics with a lot of computer chips — not to mention our computers themselves — and if you get an electrical surge and don’t have a surge protector on your house or hooked to your electronics, it can be an expensive problem. (Visit LCEC.net to learn more about getting surge protectors for your home.)
  • Storm shutters. We usually have ample warning about tropical storms and hurricanes that are predicted to come our way. But you have to make sure that you’re prepared for storms in advance. Do you have hurricane shutters or appropriately sized plywood to cover your windows? Now is the time to think about it — well before a storm is bearing down on us.

And, if you’re heading out of town for the rest of the summer, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve closed your house up properly. That means:

  • Making sure your windows are protected
  • Keeping your air conditioning turned on to keep the humidity out of your house
  • Having someone taking care of your lawn — otherwise, you’ll need a machete to get to your front door when you come back!

So sure, Florida is the Sunshine State. But Southwest Florida is also the place where you can visit the tropics without leaving the country.

Is it hot here in the summer? Yeah. Is it humid here in the summer? Yeah. Do we have a lot of rain here? Yeah.

But to me, summer will always be the coolest time of the year to live on Pine Island.