NASCAR: Daytona Race Weekend Weather Forecast


Florida has gotten soaked this week due to a storm system that has been stuck over the Southeastern US the past few days.  But as predicted in last week’s forecast, we are moving out of the wet pattern and into something much drier just in time for restrictor plate racing at Daytona International Speedway tonight and Saturday night.  As we’ve seen so often this season though, hit and miss showers still can’t be ruled out.

Feb 24, 2013; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Jimmie Johnson (48) and Brad Keselowski (2) lead the field through the tri-oval during a caution during the 2013 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The weather over the next couple of days in Daytona will be typical of summertime in Florida in that we’ve got a slight chance of mainly afternoon and evening showers, but there are a couple of important differences in this pattern, both good and bad, that I want to talk about.  For those of you familiar with weather in Florida, these aren’t your typical sea breeze showers, but that could be a good thing.  I’ll start with the bad news.

High pressure to the east of Florida will provide a stout east wind and this will bring moisture across the sunshine state from the Atlantic Ocean.  In this type of pattern, you can sometimes have little weak disturbances that rotate around the high pressure center and produce scattered showers and thunderstorms.  One may affect the area this afternoon, and I see another one swinging through tomorrow morning and afternoon.

The good news is threefold though…  These disturbances don’t appear to be very strong at all, so showers and storms should be pretty hit and miss.  On top of that, the easterly flow is so strong that any showers that do pop up should be pretty quick-moving.  If this was just what most people think of as typical Florida weather, with afternoon pop-up storms along the sea breeze, we’d have to worry more about stronger, slower moving storms firing up and dumping on the track for longer periods of time.  These should be weaker and more brief.  And finally, the timing of any showers that do develop appears to be in our favor, as these weak disturbance should be passing through before the green flag drops both tonight and tomorrow, so the only thing we’ll have to watch for is “straggler” showers hanging around.  These should die off pretty quickly though.

So here are the details…

For tonight’s Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250, expect partly cloudy skies and breezy conditions.  The green flag is set to drop just before 8pm ET, when temperatures should be in the low 80s.  All that moisture from the Atlantic, while it may not necessarily produce rain, will make it feel muggy out there, so it will feel more like upper 80s even as the race begins.  By the end of the race, we’ll only drop a couple degrees to near 80.  For those spending the whole day at the track, the high temperature for today will be around 87 degrees, but the heat index will be closer to 92-94.  Isolated showers and perhaps a thunderstorm are possible in the area, but should be ending by around 6-8pm if they do develop.

Tomorrow night, the Sprint Cup Series will take off just before 8pm ET as well for the Coke Zero 400, and they’ll have very similar weather conditions to today.  Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy throughout the day tomorrow with isolated showers and thunderstorms possible, mainly between 10am and 4pm, otherwise another hot and humid day with afternoon highs close to 90 degrees, but the humidity producing heat indices as high as 96-98 degrees.  Please make sure to drink plenty of water along with whatever else you may be drinking!  We’ll still be around 84 degrees as the green flag drops and only drop to 81 by the end of the race.

So aside from a small chance of a delay due to a passing shower, and a little more heat than some visitors from up north would like (even though temperatures will actually be running near normal for this time of year), I can’t find too much to complain about in this forecast.  I certainly think there is a better chance of us seeing “The Big One” than so much rain that we don’t even give the drivers a chance to get on the track and wreck each other.

Next weekend, NASCAR’s top three series will all be on the track with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series in New Hampshire and the Camping World Trucks at Iowa Speedway.  Both locations will once again see the “R” word in the forecast, but check in with me next week when I iron out the details and let you know when, if at all, to expect any wet stuff.  Meanwhile, enjoy the show tonight and tomorrow night at Daytona!