There are three basic climate zones in Florida . North Florida—roughly the Panhandle across to Jacksonville  and dipping south into the Ocala-Gainesville area—sees four-season weather patterns similar to the rest of the American South: brutally hot and humid summers, chilly and largely snowless winters, and temperate, unpredictable springs and autumns.
The Central Florida region—between Daytona Beach  and Vero Beach on the Atlantic coast and Cedar Key and Sarasota  on the Gulf coast—sees its seasons reduced to three. Summer defines the area and lasts about late April–late September, bringing blisteringly hot and humid days in which a thunderstorm is almost guaranteed to occur every afternoon.
A brief, blissfully beautiful autumn brings mild temperatures and clear skies early October–mid-December. It’s then that “spring” begins, an indecisive season of dry air, sunny days, and temperatures generally hovering in the mid-60s to mid-70s; in Central Florida spring is occasionally interrupted by brief periods of winter that can bring temperatures down to the mid-30s. Northerners will cackle at the panic that grips Central Florida when a freeze warning is issued. These bouts of frigidity are unpredictable and often only last a few days at a time; days with highs of 50°F or lower typically number less than a dozen a year.
Finally, tropical South Florida sees only two seasons: oppressive and pleasant. Summer lasts a little longer in South Florida—mid-March–mid-October—and has the same tendency as Central Florida to be dizzyingly humid and hot with daily thundershowers. But as a reward for sweating it out for half the year, South Floridians enjoy a picture-perfect other half, with an autumn-winter-spring season that sees consistent sunny, warm, and dry days with highs in the mid-70s–low 80s and lows clicking in comfortably around 60°F every night. Although some nights can get a little chilly and there are a handful of days when a light jacket might be necessary to ward off a cool mid-50s breeze, South Florida’s weather between Halloween and Valentine’s Day is about as perfect as you could hope for.
Throughout Florida , temperatures on the coast are usually 5–10 degrees cooler than inland, thanks to constant sea breezes; conversely, humidity in the inland parts of the state can seem twice as heavy and thick as it does on the coast.
Those same coastal weather patterns also bring the threat of hurricanes. The official season for Atlantic hurricanes is June 1–November 1, but the peak of activity is usually in August–September. The Florida Keys  and South Florida are most often in the direct path of the storms that form in the Atlantic basin. Although almost every region of Florida has been impacted by hurricanes—most notably in 2004, when an unprecedented four hurricanes hit the state, including three that crossed the normally untouched Central Florida region—it’s the Keys and South Florida that generally assume they’ll be hit. Conversely, residents in the rest of the state—including the oft-impacted Panhandle—tend to assume they won’t be hit. While many times they have been proven correct, the fact remains that Florida is a hurricane magnet, and when the storms do hit, they hit hard.
If there is a hurricane warning announced for the area you’re vacationing in, you need to leave immediately. Don’t let local naysayers sway your decision with talk about how “it wasn’t so bad the last time” or “it’ll curve to the right like they always do.” The terror of 70 mph or higher winds is an entirely different experience when you’re living it rather than watching it on the Weather Channel, and even storms with midrange winds can often bring flooding downpours that are incredibly dangerous. Despite their best efforts, hurricane trackers are usually wrong, or at least not completely right, and these storms are large and unpredictable. Don’t be a hero, don’t be a know-it-all, don’t be brave; just leave. The state will hopefully still be here when you come back.