Weather in North America

The weather in North America, including Canada, the United States and Mexico, is as diverse as it can be, with climates ranging from arctic tundra to sizzling desert.

In the extreme north, the weather in Alaska and northern Canada varies greatly throughout the year. Known for harsh winters, temperatures can reach -60°F (-52°C) and daylight hours are severely reduced; cities in the far north such as Barrow have a subarctic climate, and there is no daylight from late November to mid-January. The best time to visit Alaska is between spring and autumn (May to September), when the weather is warm and days are long. Cities in Alaska like Anchorage have as much as 19 hours of daylight in late June. May is the driest month.

The Pacific Northwest has the highest average rainfall in North America, and most of that falls in winter with popular tourist cities like Seattle and San Francisco averaging 5 inches (12.7cm) per month, while summers are drier. Average winter temperatures are between 37 and 46°F (3-8°C). To stay warm and dry, the best time to visit San Francisco is in late summer (July to September).

Further inland, the northern and central US, including the Rocky Mountains, Midwest US and New England are known for bitterly cold winters (December to February) with large amounts of snow. Key tourist cities such as New York City, Chicago and Boston have average winter temperatures well below freezing. Springs (March to May) are wet with unpredictable temperatures, while summers can reach temperatures of between 70 and 100°F (21-38°C) with scattered rainfall. Tornado season in the Midwest generally runs from late May through August. The best time to visit the US is in the spring (May and June) and autumn (late August through October) to avoid extreme temperatures.

The climate in the southern US is more varied depending on longitude. California’s weather is consistently sunny and warm, with little rainfall throughout the year. Desert winds bring dry air in the winter, and the average temperature in California is generally 55°F (13°C) in winter, and 73°F (22.8°C) in summer. The best time to visit California is in the summer (June to early September) when the water is warm and there is little rain. Further east in Arizona, New Mexico and most of Texas, the climate is dry and arid, with temperatures averaging 44°F (7°C) in winter and 85°F (29°C) in summer.

The weather in the American South, including states like Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia, is humid and subtropical, with hot summers and mild winters. Average Florida temperatures in summer stay around 82°F (27°C), and 59°F (15°C) in winter. Hurricane season in Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas runs from June to September, which is also the rainy season in the region. The best time to visit Florida and the Gulf of Mexico is between February and April, to avoid the heat and humidity of mid-summer.

Mexico’s climate is similar to that of Texas and the desert states, with summer weather hot and dry and winter (November to February) temperatures moderately cooler. Cities at higher altitudes like Mexico City tend to be cooler than those closer to sea level and on the coast, which are warmer and more humid. The best time to visit Mexico is in autumn (October and November), to avoid the rainy season, which runs from June to September and carries the risk of hurricanes.

For detailed climate and weather information on destinations in North America, please select a country below.