Discover Orlando Florida
Orlando is a city in the U.S. state of Florida and the county seat of Orange County. Located in Central Florida, it is the center of the Orlando metropolitan area, which had a population of 2,387,138, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released in March 2016. These figures make it the 24th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the Southern United States, and the third-largest metropolitan area in Florida. As of 2015, Orlando had an estimated city-proper population of 270,934, making it the 73rd-largest city in the United States, the fourth-largest city in Florida, and the state’s largest inland city.
The City of Orlando is nicknamed “The City Beautiful”, and its symbol is the fountain at Lake Eola. Orlando is also known as “The Theme Park Capital of the World” and in 2016 its tourist attractions and events drew more than 68 million visitors. The Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the thirteenth-busiest airport in the United States and the 29th-busiest in the world.
As one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations, Orlando’s famous attractions form the backbone of its tourism industry. the two most significant of these attractions are Walt Disney World, opened by the Walt Disney Company in 1971, and located approximately 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Downtown Orlando in Bay Lake; and the Universal Orlando Resort, opened in 1999 as a major expansion of Universal Studios Florida. With the exception of Walt Disney World, most major attractions are located along International Drive. The city is also one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions; the Orange County Convention Center is the second-largest convention facility in the United States.
Like other major cities in the Sun Belt, Orlando grew rapidly from the 1980s up into the first decade of the 21st century. Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida, which is the largest university campus in the United States in terms of enrollment as of 2015. In 2010, Orlando was listed as a “Gamma−” level global city in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory. Orlando ranks as the fourth-most popular American city based on where people want to live according to a 2009 Pew Research Center study.
Good to Know
Orlando has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) like much of Florida. Orlando is located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9B. There are two basic seasons in Orlando, a hot and rainy season, lasting from May until late September (roughly coinciding with the Atlantic hurricane season), and a cool and dry season from October through April. The area’s warm and humid climate is caused primarily by its low elevation, its position relatively close to the Tropic of Cancer, and its location in the center of a peninsula. Many characteristics of its climate are a result of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, which flows around the peninsula of Florida.
During the height of Orlando’s humid summer season, high temperatures are typically in the lower to mid 90s °F (32–36 °C), while low temperatures rarely fall below the mid 70s °F (23-26 °C). The average window for such temperatures is April 19 – October 11. The area’s humidity acts as a buffer, usually preventing actual temperatures from exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), but also pushing the heat index to over 110 °F (43 °C). The city’s highest recorded temperature is 103 °F (39 °C), set on September 8, 1921. During these months, strong afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. These storms are caused by air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean colliding over Central Florida. They are highlighted by spectacular lightning and can also bring heavy rain (sometimes several inches per hour) and powerful winds as well as rare damaging hail
During the cooler season, humidity is much lower and temperatures are more moderate, and can fluctuate more readily. The monthly daily average temperature in January is 60.2 °F (15.7 °C). Temperatures dip below the freezing mark on an average of only 2.4 nights per annum, and the lowest recorded temperature is 18 °F (−8 °C), set on December 28, 1894. Because the winter season is dry and freezing temperatures usually occur only after cold fronts (and their accompanying precipitation) have passed, snow is exceptionally rare. The only accumulation ever to occur in the city proper since recordkeeping began was in 1948, although there was some accumulation in surrounding areas in a snow event in January 1977. Flurries have also been observed in 1989 and 2006 and 2010.
The average annual rainfall in Orlando is 50.6 inches (1,290 mm), a majority of which occurs in the period from June to September. The months of October through May are Orlando’s dry season. During this period (especially in its later months), there is often a wildfire hazard. During some years, fires have been severe. In 1998, a strong El Niño caused an unusually wet January and February, followed by drought throughout the spring and early summer, causing a record wildfire season that created numerous air quality alerts in Orlando and severely impacted normal daily life, including the postponement of that year’s Pepsi 400 NASCAR race in nearby Daytona Beach.
Orlando is a major population center and has a considerable hurricane risk, although it is not as high as in South Florida’s urban corridor or other coastal regions. Since the city is located 42 miles (68 km) inland from the Atlantic and 77 miles (124 km) inland from the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes usually weaken before arriving. Storm surges are not a concern since the region is 100 feet (30 m) above sea level. Despite its location, the city does see strong hurricanes. During the notorious 2004 hurricane season, Orlando was hit by three hurricanes that caused significant damage, with Hurricane Charley the worst of these. The city also experienced widespread damage during Hurricane Donna in 1960.
Tornadoes are not usually connected with the strong thunderstorms of the summer. They are more common during the infrequent cold fronts of winter, as well as in passing hurricanes. The two worst major outbreaks in the area’s history, a 1998 outbreak that killed 42 people and a 2007 outbreak that killed 21, both happened in February.