By LIZ MACLEAN
The UT website and the brochure sport pictures of students basking in the sunshine in Plant Park or strolling around campus, sweat stains and runny makeup nowhere to be found. Students lay out by the pool and the docks and play football in Vaughn courtyard. However, once you experience weather in Tampa, or anywhere in Florida, you realize that it’s a lot more than just sunshine and rainbows.
- When it Rains, it Pours.
Florida may be nicknamed the Sunshine State, but as students can attest to, there are days when you think a flood evacuation may be necessary because of the downpours. Although these pop-up showers usually only last about 15 minutes (especially in the fall season), the rain can be detrimental to a white t-shirt or a new pair of shoes.
“Usually I wear a rain jacket because umbrellas don’t work for me since it’s so windy and they just flip inside-out,” said Emily Williams, junior marine biology major. “So a rain jacket, and sometimes a hat, to keep everything dry as much as I can.”
During the first part of the fall semester, it’s important to carry an umbrella in your backpack just in case Mother Nature decides it’s only going to rain when you’re walking to class and when you get out of class. Even though you risk the chance of losing it in a rogue gust of wind, it’s worth keeping your laptop dry.
- You Can’t Trust weather.com or the iPhone Weather App.
Weather.com will show thunderstorms all day (even though it will probably only rain from 3:00 to 3:15), and the iPhone weather app just displays never-changing sunshine icon. The truth is, they don’t really know what the weather is going to be like because it’s so unpredictable.
For example, during the first week of school, all the meteorologists said Tropical Storm Hermine would hit on Thursday and cause horrible flooding and dangerous conditions. It turns out, every other day that week was filled with high winds, downpours, and nasty driving conditions except for Thursday. That’s why it’s always important to be prepared for a drastic weather change whenever you step outside (visit baynews9.com for updates on traffic and road conditions).
- Speaking of Hermine…
We all took a hard hit the first week of classes, thanks to Hermine. Students driving from off-campus apartments risked unstable road conditions, which is one of the reasons why campus activities were shut down for anafternoon. Hermine hit 80 mph winds on Thursday, Sept. 1, and was classified as a category 1 hurricane. So while your friends are all posting cute first-day-of-school outfits on Instagram, you’re sporting a poncho and rain boots throughout the first week.
When you tell people you go to school in Florida, they may try to warn you about hurricane season, but it’s hard to understand until you experience it for yourself. There’s nothing like having your umbrella whisked away by winds and looking like you just took a shower – in your clothes – when you get to class.
“I like wearing my rain boots,” said Molly Verrill, junior elementary education major. “I really don’t like when my feet or shoes get wet because they slip.”
The Plant Hall veranda is a very common area for slippage, so use extra caution in rainy weather.
A raincoat, boots, and an umbrella are all necessities for school in Florida. Puddles can get pretty deep by the time afternoon classes come around, and we all know it’s no fun to sit in an air conditioned classroom in a soaked-through t-shirt and shorts after walking through a hurricane.
- The Humidity Does Wonders for B.O. and Frizzy Hair.
“[My hair] gets really frizzy,” Williams said. “It’s very curly naturally, and it’s frizzy all the time anyway, so when it’s humid, especially when it’s rainy, it starts to get really poofy.”
According to the Florida Climate Center, the average humidity in Tampa in the morning is 87%. For people who are concerned about their hair, this means lots of products.
“If I want to wear it down, I’ll put mousse in it to keep it from frizzing up, but if it’s just a normal day and I’m going to class, I’ll just put it in a bun or something easy,” Williams said.
For those who sweat a lot, especially when hurrying around campus on a 90 degree day, it’s smart to keep a stick of deodorant in your bag that you can quickly apply in the bathroom before class. This is especially helpful if you have back-to-back classes or are going right from class to work.
- If You’re Not Careful, Sunshine = Sunburn
Summer in the northeast is a lot different from summer in Florida. While you may have built up a tan over the summer, us pale kids are still trying to get on your level. A Labor Day trip to the beach can result in a bad sunburn, which no doubt many other students will match. But by the time students are in their senior year, they’ve usually learned that yes, you need sunscreen every time you go to the beach, and no, Banana Boat deep tanning spray with SPF 4 won’t cut it.
- Despite the Crazy Weather, People Pay to Vacation Here.
While hurricanes, lightning, and a soaring UV index can all be inconvenient and sometimes dangerous, people continue to flock to the Florida coast. That intense sunshine compliments the beautiful beaches and clear waters. The rain usually only lasts a short amount of time, which means you can move on with your plans. And hurricanes? They cancel classes. Cities in Florida took three out of 25 spots for the most popular travel destinations in the US, according to Business Insider.
Dealing with Florida weather may be a struggle sometimes, but the beach trips and lazy afternoons hammocking in Plant Park are worth it. In fact, UT took number 10 on a list of colleges with the best weather, according to bestcollegereviews.org. So while it’s important to remember to bring an umbrella to class, look on the bright side and pack sunglasses too.
Liz MacLean can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org