Alabama climate is of humid subtropical type (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with very hot summers, mild winters, and precipitation throughout the year. Alabama lies in the tornado-prone Dixie Alley of the southeastern part of the United States. Georgia in the east, Florida in the southeast, the Gulf of Mexico in the south, Mississippi in the west, and Tennessee in the north share borders with the state. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, latitudes close to the equator than the pole, and tropical systems mainly influence the climate.
Alabama, the Yellowhammer State, has an average elevation of 150 meters above sea level, with the highest point at 735 meters at Mount Cheaha. The northern mountainous region consists of rivers, lakes, and streams, with Tennessee as the principal river. The central parts have rocky foothills that rise significantly in the northeast counties. Gentle plains constitute sixty% of the land area, with a gradual descent towards the Gulf of Mexico in the south. Many of the major rivers flow south and southwestward to the Gulf. Alabama is home to one of the largest inland waterway systems in the United States.
Alabama summers have average high temperatures above 90°F (32.2°C) and are among the hottest in the United States. Day highs often average 92°F (33.3°C) in many southern regions. The days are slightly milder near the coast due to the proximity of the Gulf of Mexico, but nights tend to be warmer than the interior regions. Winters are mild to cold, with average low temperatures below freezing in the northeast. The central and southern parts have relatively mild temperatures but experience freezing nights occasionally. Autumn is mild and dry compared to the spring season. Spring is wet and prone to tornadoes and thunderstorms. Hailstorms occur chiefly from February to May, while fog descends on the coast in the winter.
The average precipitation is 56" (1422.4mm) annually and occurs throughout the year. The coast is wetter than the interior, with frequent thunderstorms and tropical storms in the summer. August to October is the driest period in the northern and central portions, while the summer season is the wettest along the coast. Snowfall is rare but occurs chiefly in the northern mountainous region of Alabama a few times in the winter. The warm climate gives a long growing season of 300 days in the southern part of the state. The annual sunshine lasts for 2600 hours, with an average of 210 sunny and partly sunny days. Humidity averages between 70% and 75% over the year, and mornings record the highest levels of the day.
Centreville recorded the highest temperature in Alabama of 112°F (44.4°C) on September 26, 1965, while the coldest recorded temperature is -17°F (-27.2°C) in Valley Head on February 12, 1899.
The best time to visit Alabama
The best time to visit Alabama is during the autumn, when the conditions are relatively mild and dry. The temperatures are far below the peak of the hot summer season, with fewer incidences of storms. The fall season has pleasant outdoor conditions with a drop in humidity and wind speeds. The mornings are refreshing, evenings tend to be breezy, and the wilderness soaks in colors. The coast is calm, and the water temperatures are mild. The northern hilly areas see plenty of tourist interest with cooler temperatures and ample sunlight. Early summer in June attracts crowds to Alabama.
The worst time to visit Alabama
The worst time to visit Alabama is from December to mid-April that spans the winter and the majority of the spring season. The winter temperatures range from mild to cold, and it is not uncommon to experience freezing nights in the majority of the state. Wind speeds are often high due to a lack of natural barriers except in the northeast. March and April account for several tornadoes and thunderstorms, with chances of lightning strikes and hailstorms. Tropical storms that originate from the Gulf of Mexico often invade the state in the spring season.
Alabama is vulnerable to thunderstorms, tropical storms, floods, and droughts. March and April in early spring have the highest frequency of tornadoes, although the season lasts from November to May. The central and the northern parts of Alabama lie squarely in the Dixie Alley that has one of the highest tornado risks in the United States. Twenty tornadoes occur on average each year, while the coastal area averages destructive hurricanes once in 7 years. Wind speeds reach 100mph (160.9km/h) along the coast during hurricanes. Thunderstorm activity registers for 60 days in the year, with the maximum number of storms in July.
Weather in January
January is usually the coldest month of the year in Alabama with wet days and occasional freezing nights. The precipitation is to the tune of 4.5" (114.3mm) to 6" (152.4mm), with the northern part slightly wetter than the coast and significantly more than the central portion. The average low temperatures are between 28°F (-2.2°C) in the north to 46°F (7.8°C) along the Gulf Coast. Montgomery, the capital in the south, registers in the cold 36°F (2.2°C) to mild 57°F (13.9°C) range. Severe cold seldom occurs due to the interaction of dry, cold continental air with the moist and warm air from the Gulf. However, the average low temperatures are cold at the peak of the winter in January. The Tennessee River Valley occasionally registers temperatures below 0°F (-17.8°C), while they are rare and brief in the south. A winter jacket protects from wind chill and sudden rainfall. Alabama is one of the few states with considerable tourist footfall in January due to the warm conditions compared to the rest of the United States.
Weather in February
February is mildly cold in Alabama, with the average low temperatures in the 32°F (0°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) range and the average high temperatures in the 53°F (11.7°C) to 65°F (18.3°C) zone. Birmingham in the central region is colder between 37°F (2.8°C) to 58°F (14.4°C) compared to Mobile on the coast between 43°F (6.1°C) to 64°F (17.8°C). The skies are partly cloudy, with 4" (101.6mm) to 6" (152.4mm) of precipitation statewide. The Gulf shores offer warm days with 6 hours of sunlight and beautiful beaches with mild ocean waters. Snowfall is mostly absent except for the high mountains where it registers up to 4" (101.6mm). Skiing enthusiasts have several choices to practice their passion, such as the top of the Lookout Mountain near the Georgia border. Temperatures below 10°F (-12.2°C) occur a few times in the north and the central parts but are rare along the coast. Winter is a good time for fishing in the Gulf, with the day temperatures above 60°F (15.6°C). Keep an eye on the weather for storms in February in Alabama.
Weather in March
March is warm and wet, with the beginning of the spring season in Alabama. The coast receives 6" (152.4mm) of rainfall and is significantly wetter than the northern part of the state. The average temperatures are in the mild 38°F (3.3°C) to warm 71°F (21.7°C) range, with Tuscaloosa in the south in the 45°F (7.2°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) zone. The mild conditions of early spring cast away any remaining cold of the winter season. The bright sunshine melts the last remnants of snow and brings greenery to the landscape. Spring is the time for Alabama's gardens to fill with a multitude of colorful flowers. The air is fresh, and the soil smells sweet in the temperate weather. Make the best use of the warm 7 hours of daily sunshine amid low humidity and pleasant conditions. Historic trails, national and state parks, forests, and parkways offer plenty of choices for outdoor activities in the mild spring weather. Wear a rain jacket on outdoor explorations. Watch out for frequent and severe storms in March in Alabama.
Weather in April
April is warm in the spring season in Alabama, with 8 hours of daily sunshine and significant precipitation. The wet conditions last for 8 to 10 days in the month and register 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) of rainfall. Day temperatures are in the warm 72°F (22.2°C) to 78°F (25.6°C), and draw crowds to the Gulf beaches, with mild ocean waters. The hunting and fishing seasons are in full swing, except when a storm is on the horizon. Fishing enthusiasts have plenty of options to practice their trade with ample numbers of largemouth bass and fighting tarpons. Roaring waterfalls and flowing rivers and streams lighten the spirits of passionate bikers and hikers. A light rain jacket protects from sudden rain showers. Yellowhammers, wild turkeys, eastern tiger swallowtails are abundant in the countryside, while the early spring season can spot a black bear in the wild. Keep an eye on the weather for tornadoes in the Heart of Dixie, which bring heavy rainfall and frightening wind speeds in April in Alabama.
Weather in May
May is sunny in the spring season of Alabama, with the average high temperatures in the warm 79°F (26.1°C) to 84°F (28.9°C) zone. Jackson in southern Alabama registers warm temperatures between 60°F (15.6°C) to 84°F (28.9°C), while Fairhope on the coast is between 64°F (17.8°C) to 85°F (29.4°C). Spring weekends offer a taste of local produce in farmer's markets along with delicious local wine as the growing season is in full swing. Fishing, boating, canoeing, and kayaking are popular during the spring break with the invasion of crowds everywhere. The precipitation is to the tune of 3" (76.2mm) to 5" (127mm) and frequently accompanies thunderstorms with lightning. The state and national parks see an increase in visitors during the bright days of spring. Avoid afternoon outings as far as possible as it is the time when a high percentage of storms are active. Expect the temperatures to rise with the end of the spring season significantly. Stormy weather can hamper vacation plans in May in Alabama.
Weather in June
June is the beginning of the hot summer season in Alabama, with long days amid bright sunshine. The average high temperatures are in the hot range of 85°F (29.4°C) to 90°F (32.2°C), while the average low temperatures are in the warm 65°F (18.3°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) zone. Southern Alabama has the hottest temperatures in the state, with Montgomery, Atmore, Dothan, and enterprise reaching the 90°F (32.2°C) mark on average. The daylight lasts for more than 15 hours, and the sun is scorching during the afternoons. The northeast mountains see a rise in the tourist population due to the relatively cooler conditions, while the Gulf coast also remains milder than the interior regions. Avoid the southern part of the state in the summer as the temperatures cross 100°F (37.8°C), and the heat is oppressive. Mornings and evenings offer comfortable conditions at the beaches, but afternoons are avoidable. Alabama summers are prone to severe thunderstorms, with several storms lining up the state in June.
Weather in July
July is peak summer in Alabama, with the average high temperatures soaring to 93°F (33.9°C) in the central and southern regions. The majority of the state sees average highs above 90°F (32.2°C) during the day, while the nights register in the range of 68°F (20°C) to 78°F (25.6°C). Fairhope and Bay Minette along the coast receive up to 8" (203.2mm) of precipitation, which gradually tapers going northward till it reaches 4" (101.6mm) in Huntsville in the north. The soil needs access to plenty of water to retain moistness in the growing season. Local floods and droughts occur regularly in many parts of the state. Moist Gulf air often brings thunderstorms in the afternoons in the southern region. Lakes and rivers are popular outing spots during the summer, along with the beaches of the Gulf shore. Even though there are plenty of activities, including hiking, biking, and bird-watching, it is prudent to avoid the afternoon heat. July is the time to avoid a visit to Alabama in the scorching sun, with a promise to mellow temperatures in the coming days.
Weather in August
August is hot in the summer season of Alabama, with many sunny days and mostly clear skies. The temperatures scale down from the peak of summer to register in the average range of 69°F (20.6°C) to 93°F (33.9°C). The mountains and hill stations in the north attract tourists with the heat significantly lesser at higher altitudes. The Gulf coast receives the highest rainfall of 7" (177.8mm) in the state and is prone to thunderstorms mainly in the afternoon. Local thunderstorms bring comfortable conditions, with cool breezes scattered over vast areas. The growing season is at its peak, and the agricultural lands need plenty of water to maintain moisture in the soil. Wildlife reserves receive many visitors during the long days of August. Dawn and dusk are the perfect times to spot wild animals. The hunting season is in full swing with the availability of wild turkeys, light geese, deer, and other animals. Expect the heat to decline gradually by the end of August in Alabama.
Weather in September
September sees the arrival of the beautiful autumn season in Alabama that typically begins by the third week of the month. The average high temperatures are in the hot range of 82°F (27.8°C) to 88°F (31.1°C), while the average low temperatures are in the comfortable range of 59°F (15°C) to 68°F (20°C). Southern Alabama and the Gulf coast register day highs above 88°F (31.1°C) for the majority of September, with a significant decrease in precipitation. The daylight lasts for 14 hours, but the intensity of the sun is less compared to the summer. The conditions are ripe for scenic hikes through the colorful foliage and enjoyable drives through the countryside. Mornings are better for outdoors, but afternoons are considerably dry a decrease in storms. The fall season is a great time to visit Dauphin Island near the coast. The ocean waters are mild, and the beaches attract many tourists. The harvest season brings cheers to food lovers with a variety of produce to eat and drink. September skies offer the best stargazing opportunities in Alabama.
Weather in October
October is mid-autumn in Alabama, with pleasant temperatures and mostly clear skies. The driest period of the year receives between 3" (76.2mm) to 4" (101.6mm) statewide, with a significant decline in storm activity. The average temperatures are in the comfortable 50°F (10°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) range, with relaxed mornings and breezy evenings. The fall foliage reaches its peak in October, as the landscape attains various colors. Northern Alabama is more colorful than the south with many forests and hilly areas. The hunting season is in full swing with plenty of wildlife sightings. Apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and corn mazes remain busy with heightened picking activities. A lakeside getaway is one of the most desired weekend vacation plans at the peak of the fall season. Light jackets make evenings comfortable, while summer wear is sufficient during the warm days. Camping grounds remain busy as bonfires crackle in the breezy evenings. The fall season in October is one of the best times to visit Alabama.
Weather in November
November is mild in Alabama, with average temperatures in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 71°F (21.7°C) zone. The conditions are pleasant, with daily sunshine of at least 6 hours. Anniston in central Alabama registers mild temperatures between 42°F (5.6°C) to 65°F (18.3°C), while Mobile on the Gulf coast is comfortable between 49°F (9.4°C) to 71°F (21.7°C). Nights tend to be on the colder side but rarely drop below freezing. The crisp air and colorful atmosphere bring a sense of inner well being, with nature at its best. November brings 3" (76.2mm) to 5" (127mm) of precipitation, but this is the beginning of the tornado season in Alabama. Full moon hikes excite those seeking adventure in the fall season. Jackets or sweaters protect from the cold during night expeditions. Fishing and hunting have many takers due to the abundant population of wild turkey, deer, fox, and trout. Expect temperatures to dip significantly by the end of the autumn season. November is an excellent time to visit Alabama, but also marks the beginning of the tornado season.
Weather in December
December begins the mild to cold winter season in Alabama, with the average low temperatures in the 30°F (-1.1°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) range. Freezing nights occur in the northern part, with temperatures between 30°F (-1.1°C) to 34°F (1.1°C) in Bridgeport and Huntsville. The days are mild and usually in the 51°F (10.6°C) to 63°F (17.2°C) range with 6 hours of sunlight. The winter days are wet, with 4" (101.6mm) to 6" (152.4mm) of precipitation across the state. Alabama receives light snowfall in the northern region, if any during the winter, but indoor snow hills and snow rooms satiate the hunger of snow lovers. Christmas is the time to bring out the holiday spirit, with a chance for visitors to pet reindeer in Santa's Village in Huntsville. Snowfall rarely occurs near the coast due to the warm air of the Gulf of Mexico. The days are mild, but the precipitation is heavy at times, especially when there is a tornado lurking in the corner in December in Alabama.