Climate of Virginia

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Koppen climate classification types of Virginia. Virginia Koppen.svg
Köppen climate classification types of Virginia.
Due to its elevation, the Blue Ridge Mountains have a humid continental climate. Shenandoah Trees.jpg
Due to its elevation, the Blue Ridge Mountains have a humid continental climate.

The climate of Virginia, a state on the east coast of the United States, is considered mild compared to other areas of the United States. Most of Virginia east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the southern part of the Shenandoah Valley, and the Roanoke Valley, has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). In the mountainous areas west of the Blue Ridge, the climate becomes warm-summer humid continental (Köppen Dfb) and oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb). [1] [2] Severe weather, in the form of tornadoes, tropical cyclones, and winter storms, impacts the state on a regular basis. Central Virginia received significant snowfall of 20 inches in December 2009.


Climate zones

A lot of variations occur because of the state's significant relief. Elevations in Virginia vary from sea level to Mount Rogers at 5,729 ft (1,746 m) above sea level, with major gradations occurring at the edges of the Atlantic Ocean, the end of the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge and Allegheny chains of the Appalachian Mountains. The moderating influence of the ocean from the east, powered by the Gulf Stream, also creates the potential for hurricanes near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Cold air masses arrive over the mountains, especially in winter, which can lead to significant snowfalls when coastal storms known as noreasters move up the Atlantic coast.

The interaction of these elements with the state's topography create micro-climates in the Shenandoah Valley, the mountainous southwest, and the coastal plains that are slightly but noticeably distinct from each other. [3]

Statistics for selected cities

The highest recorded temperature is 115 °F (46 °C) at Balcony Falls on July 15, 1954 and the lowest recorded temperature is −30 °F (−34 °C) at Mountain Lake on January 22, 1985. [4]

Severe weather

Thunderstorms are a frequent concern in Virginia. Lightning over Short Hill Mountain.jpg
Thunderstorms are a frequent concern in Virginia.

Severe weather is a concern in Virginia. Hurricanes make the coastal area of Virginia vulnerable. It is rare for a major hurricane to threaten the Virginia coast as hurricanes this far north tend to weaken due to cooler coast waters and increasingly westerly winds aloft. Heavy rain from tropical cyclones remains a concern, however. Hurricane Isabel in 2003 brought much destruction from wind and rain, killing 10 directly and doing nearly two billion dollars in damage. Hurricane Gaston in 2004 inundated Richmond after moving ashore South Carolina. [22] Virginia is often struck with the remnants of systems which hit along the Gulf of Mexico coastline, which also bring torrential rain to the state. Hurricane Camille was an extreme example, bringing 27 inches (690 mm) of rainfall to portions of Nelson County in a matter of hours. [23] Thunderstorms are an occasional concern with the state averaging anywhere from 35-45 days of thunderstorm activity annually. [24]

Rainfall in Virginia is frequent, but does not normally get severe enough for floods. Virginia averages seven tornadoes annually, though most are F2 and lower on the Fujita scale. [25] However, Virginia had eighty-five in 2004. [26] Western Virginia has a lower rate of tornadoes. [27]

See also


  1. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. Official records for Lynchburg were kept at the Weather Bureau Office from January 1893 to July 1944, and at Lynchburg Regional since August 1944. For more information, see ThreadEx
  3. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  4. Official records for Norfolk kept January 1874 to December 1945 at the Weather Bureau Office in downtown, and at Norfolk Int'l since January 1946. For more information, see Threadex
  5. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  6. Official records for Richmond kept January 1887 to December 1910 at downtown, Chimborazo Park from January 1911 to December 1929, and at Richmond Int'l since January 1930. For more information, see Threadex
  7. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  8. Official records for Washington, D.C. were kept at 24th and M Streets NW from January 1871 to June 1945, and at Reagan National since July 1945. [16]

Related Research Articles

Climate of Missouri

Missouri generally has a variety of seasonal humid subtropical climate, with cool winters and long, hot summers. In the southern part of the state, particularly in the Bootheel, the climate borders on a more mild-type humid subtropical climate, and in the northern third, the state transitions into a humid continental climate. Because of its location in the interior United States, Missouri often experiences extremes in temperatures. Lacking either large mountains or oceans nearby to moderate its temperature, its climate is alternately influenced by air from the cold Arctic and the hot and humid Gulf of Mexico. As of late, Missouri has seen a drastic decline in annual snowfall, with some daily high winter temperatures sometimes dwindling in early summer/late spring temperatures.

Middle Tennessee is a distinct portion of the state of Tennessee, delineated according to state law as the 41 counties in the Middle Grand Division of Tennessee.

Quillayute Airport, formerly known as Quillayute State Airport, is a public airport located approximately 10 miles (16 km) west of the city of Forks, in Clallam County, Washington, United States. It is owned by the City of Forks. This former Naval Auxiliary Air Station was deeded to the City of Forks by the Washington State Department of Transportation in 1999.

The climate of Bismarck in the U.S. state of North Dakota is humid continental, caused primarily by the combination of its mid-level latitude and location not far from the geographic centre of the U.S. Its summers are hot enough for it to border on having a Köppen Dfa classification, and precipitation is high enough for it to barely avoid being classified as semi-arid. The city's climate displays four very distinct seasons and great variation in temperatures over very short periods of time. Like other cities in the northern Great Plains, its climate is also fairly dry.

Milwaukee has a humid continental climate, with four distinct seasons and wide variations in temperature and precipitation in short periods of time. The city's climate is also strongly influenced by nearby Lake Michigan, which creates two varying climates within the Milwaukee area. The Urban heat island effect also plays a role in the city's climate, insulating it from winter cold, but keeping it cooler in spring and summer.

Oklahoma City lies in a temperate humid subtropical climate, with frequent variations in weather daily and seasonally, except during the consistently hot and humid summer months. Consistent winds, usually from the south or south-southeast during the summer, help temper the hotter weather. Consistent northerly winds during the winter can intensify cold periods. Oklahoma City's climate transitions toward semi-arid further to the west, toward humid continental to the north, and toward humid subtropical to the east and southeast. The normal annual mean temperature is 61.4 °F (16.3 °C); the coolest year was 1895 with a mean of 57.9 °F (14.4 °C), while the warmest 2012 at 64.1 °F (17.8 °C). Precipitation averages 36.52 inches (928 mm) annually, falling on an average 84 days, with the warmer months receiving more; annual precipitation has historically ranged from 15.74 in (400 mm) in 1901 to 56.95 in (1,447 mm) in 2007. The sun shines about 69% of the time, with monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 60% in December to 80% in July.

Climate of California

California's climate varies widely from hot desert to polar, depending on latitude, elevation, and proximity to the coast. California's coastal regions, the Sierra Nevada foothills, and much of the Central Valley have a Mediterranean climate, with warmer, drier weather in summer and cooler, wetter weather in winter. The influence of the ocean generally moderates temperature extremes, creating warmer winters and substantially cooler summers in coastal areas.

Columbus, Ohio deals with a variety of weather every year altering the climate of the city. Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, blizzards, and winter storms claiming thousands of lives every year.

Climate of North Dakota

North Dakota's climate is typical of a continental climate with cold winters and warm-hot summers. The state's location in the Upper Midwest allows it to experience some of the widest variety of weather in the United States, and each of the four seasons has its own distinct characteristics. The eastern half of the state has a humid continental climate with warm to hot, somewhat humid summers and cold, windy winters, while the western half has a semi-arid climate with less precipitation and less humidity but similar temperature profiles. The areas east of the Missouri River get slightly colder winters, while those west of the stream get higher summer daytime temperatures. In general, the diurnal temperature difference is prone to be more significant in the west due to higher elevation and less humidity.

Climate of Georgia (U.S. state)

The climate of Georgia is a humid subtropical climate with most of the state having short, mild winters and long, hot summers. The Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of Georgia and the hill country in the north impact the state's climate. Also, the Chattahoochee River divides Georgia into separate climatic regions with the mountain region to the northwest being cooler than the rest of the state, the average temperatures for that region in January and July being 39 °F (4 °C) and 78 °F (26 °C) respectively. Winter in Georgia is characterized by mild temperatures and little snowfall around the state, with the potential for snow and ice increasing in the northern parts of the state. Summer daytime temperatures in Georgia often exceed 95 °F (35 °C). The state experiences widespread precipitation. Tornadoes and tropical cyclones are common.

Climate of Pennsylvania

The climate of Pennsylvania is diverse due to the multitude of geographic features found within the state. Straddling two major climate zones, the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania has the warmest climate. Greater Philadelphia lies at the southernmost tip of the humid continental climate zone, with some characteristics of the humid subtropical climate that lies in Delaware and Maryland to the south. Moving west toward the mountainous interior of the state, the climate becomes markedly colder, the number of cloudy days increases, and winter snowfall amounts are greater.

South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and mild winters. On average, between 40 inches (1,000 mm) and 80 inches (2,000 mm) of precipitation falls annually across the state. Tropical cyclones, and afternoon thunderstorms due to hot and humid conditions, contribute to precipitation during the summer and sometimes fall months, while extratropical cyclones contribute to precipitation during the fall, winter, and spring months. Tornadoes happen mostly in the spring with a secondary peak in November. Hail and damaging winds often occur in summertime thunderstorms. Tornadoes are very uncommon in the summer unless a tropical disturbance were to spawn one.

Geography of Michigan

Michigan consists of two peninsulas that lie between east longitude, and are separated by the Straits of Mackinac, and some nearby islands. With the exception of two small areas that are drained by the Mississippi River by way of the Wisconsin River in the Upper Peninsula and by way of the Kankakee-Illinois River in the Lower Peninsula, Michigan is drained by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence watershed and is the only state with the majority of its land thus drained.

Climate of New York

The climate of New York state is generally humid continental, while the extreme southeastern portion of the state lies in the warm humid subtropical climate zone. Winter temperatures average below freezing during January and February in much of New York state, but several degrees above freezing along the Atlantic coastline, including New York City.

Climate of Miami

Climate of Miami is classified as having a tropical monsoon climate, with hot and humid summers; short, warm winters; and a marked drier season in the winter. Its sea-level elevation, coastal location, position just above the Tropic of Cancer, and proximity to the Gulf Stream shape its climate. With January averaging 69.2 °F (20.7 °C), winter features warm temperatures; cool air usually settles after the passage of a cold front, which produces much of the little amount of rainfall. Lows sometimes fall to or below 50 °F (10 °C), with an average 3 such occurrences annually, but very rarely 40 °F (4 °C); from 1981 to 2010, temperatures reached that level in only eight calendar years. Highs generally reach 70 °F (21 °C) or higher, and fail to do so on only an average of 12 days annually.

Climate of Hawaii

The American state of Hawaii, which covers the Hawaiian Islands, is tropical but it experiences many different climates, depending on altitude and surrounding. The island of Hawaii for example hosts 4 climate groups on a surface as small as 4,028 square miles (10,430 km2) according to the Köppen climate types: tropical, arid, temperate and polar. When counting also the Köppen sub-categories the island of Hawaii hosts 8 climate zones. The islands receive most rainfall from the trade winds on their north and east flanks as a result of orographic precipitation. Coastal areas are drier, especially the south and west side or leeward sides.

Climate of New Jersey

The climate of New Jersey classification of New Jersey is humid subtropical in South Jersey with a continental climate in North Jersey. The northwest part of New Jersey is the snowiest due to the higher elevations that earn it a Dfb classification. During the winters, New Jersey can experience Nor’easters, which are snowstorms that affect the Northeastern United States, and Atlantic Canada. New Jersey's climate is shaped by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean which provides moisture and moderates temperatures.

The climate of Allentown, Pennsylvania is classified as a humid continental climate. Allentown's warmest month is July with a daily average temperature of 73.4 °F (23.0 °C) and the coldest month being January with a daily average of 27.8 °F (−2.3 °C). The average precipitation of Allentown is 45.35 inches (1,152 mm) per year. Allentown occasionally has some severe weather, mostly thunderstorms and flooding. Winters can bring snow, with some years receiving very little of it while others seeing several major snowstorms. Winter also brings the more dangerous ice, sleet, and freezing rain, which has caused several traffic accidents over the years. Tropical storms and hurricanes occasionally survive up the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and cross into Pennsylvania. Storms such as Hurricane Ivan and more recently Hurricane Sandy have caused light to severe damage in the area.

Climate of New England

The climate of New England varies greatly across its 500-mile (800 km) span from northern Maine to southern Connecticut. Extreme southern New England is considerably warmer, sunnier, and sees far less snow than the northernmost points of New England.

Climate of Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock has a humid subtropical climate, with hot, usually humid summers, but subject to drought, primarily in late summer. According to the Trewartha climate classification system, Little Rock is subtropical because nine of its months exceed 50 °F (10 °C) in average temperature. Summers are usually hot, occasionally extremely hot; winters are short and cool, but with marked temperature variations, as the area is subject to alternating incursions of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and cold, dry air from Canada. The Little Rock area has nearly 50 inches of precipitation per year, on average. Little Rock experiences a prolonged spring wet season, with heavy rainfall a distinct possibility from March to May, and a secondary wet season peaking in November and December. On average, August is the driest month, and July through September is the driest period of the year. Little Rock averages more rain than the national average, but also averages more sunny days than the national average. Thunderstorms can occur any month of the year, but are especially frequent and severe in spring, when torrential rainfall, damaging thunderstorm winds, hail, and tornadoes are all significant threats; a secondary severe weather season peaks in November. Snow, sleet and freezing rain are rare, but can occur during the winter season, when cold Canadian air at ground level is overrun by warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. Unless otherwise indicated, all normal data presented below are based on data at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport the official Little Rock climatology station, from the 1981−2010 normals period.


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