We live along the coast so naturally visitors and residents often flock to the beaches to enjoy the nice breeze that comes in. But, what is it? And, why is it important?

The sea breeze is a cooling breeze that takes place off of any large body of water and moves over land. It is caused when the land heats up faster than the water and eventually the air over the land is warmer than the water. The resulting temperature differential leads to a pressure change, where slightly lower air pressure is over the land than the water.

Since air flows from high to low pressure, the breeze is created.

But, the sea breeze is more than just a refreshing breeze; it is crucial to our weather here in Central Florida.

First, in a generally dry weather pattern in the Spring, when the water in the Gulf and Tampa Bay are still relatively cool, it creates a wide range of temperatures in our area, from upper 70s along the coast to near 90 inland. This is our pattern this week.

To the savvy weather watcher, you may have heard us talk about how our thunderstorms are "caused by the sea breeze".

Well, the leading edge of the sea breeze is referred to as a sea breeze front. That front can lift the air just like a cold front.

So, when we make our weather forecasts during the summer and we are trying to determine which areas are more favorable for the heavier thunderstorms, we make that calculation based on where we think the sea breeze front will end up.

There is also a sea breeze from the Atlantic side of the state, a breeze comes off Tampa Bay too, and sometimes a breeze can come off of Lake Okechobee. All of these "boundaries" are important for storm initiation.

So, you have a warm and humid airmass, winds from all different directions leading to rapidly rising air, and you get our daytime thunderstorms. We still have about six weeks or so until that process begins, so for now, let's just enjoy the "cooling" effect of the daily sea breeze.