Washington, D.C., the national capital of the United States, has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with hot and humid summers and cold winters. The city lies on the Potomac River, bordered by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Location near the east coast with closeness to the ocean significantly influences the climate.
Summers are hot with plenty of sunshine, and the peak temperatures reach an average high of 88.4°F (31.3°C) in July. Spring and autumn are relatively less humid and pleasant, with evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. January is the coldest with average lows reaching an astounding 28.6°F (-1.9°C). Snowfall is common during the winter and reaches 15" (381mm). Annual rainfall is abundant to the tune of 40" (1016mm) and is occasionally accompanied by thunderstorms and destructive tornadoes.
The best time to visit Washington, D.C.
The best time to visit Washington, D.C. is the spring and the fall seasons, from March to May and from September to November. Spring brings warm weather in the 60°F (15.6°C) and 70°F (21.1°C), and the winter chill is absent. The National Cherry Blossom Festival in spring is a bucket list event, and the cherry trees blossoming all over downtown is a magnificent sight. Autumn is devoid of the heat and stickiness of the summer with spectacular fall foliage soothing the eyes. Leaves changing into different color shades against the background of numerous marble monuments are a sight straight from heaven.
The worst time to visit Washington, D.C.
Winter is the worst time to visit Washington, D.C. The cold is at its peak in January, with average low temperatures of 28°F (-2.2°C). Snowfall is common during the winter, and warm winter coats and coverings are mandatory to step out. The weather is cold, and the days are short, with daily sunshine lasting for an average of 4.3 hours. Winter offers indoor activities to visitors, as Washington, D.C. is a historic city with many museums and monuments of interest.
Washington, D.C.'s location on the east coast is prone to snowstorms. These storms make the city vulnerable during winter as a few of the more violent ones may last a few days and slow down the city. On average, one year out of four is severely affected by blizzards. Hurricanes are also a threat to Washington, D.C., not due to the powerful winds that lose strength when they reach inland, but due to the resultant flooding of the Potomac River, that causes widespread property damage.
Weather in January
The winter brings the coldest temperatures of the year in January with the mercury in the range of 28°F (-2.2°C) to 44°F (6.7°C), accompanied by a moderate amount of snow. Wear a warm winter coat, gloves, and thermals before stepping outside in the freezing weather, as the days are also chilly. Travelers who lack snow experience should avoid driving motor vehicles, especially on untreated roads and thin ice. A White Christmas and snowy New Year is a remarkable combination for visitors who rarely get a chance to experience snow.
Weather in February
February is a cold winter month and the driest of the year with 2.7" (68.6mm) of rain. Rain gives way to gather 5.7" (144.8mm) of snow during the month. Blizzards are a distinct possibility in winter, and travelers would do wisely to schedule plans by keeping an eye on the weather. The cold is intense and regularly below freezing. The majority of the public, as well as private places, have highly efficient heating systems, but thermal inner wears along with warm coats, are lifesavers. Washington, D.C. records the least number of tourists during the winter.
Weather in March
Spring starts in March and is mild, with a daily average high temperature in the region of 55°F (12.8°C). Blooming flowers along the National Mall are a joy to both tourists and locals. Spring breaks and the end of the frigid cold add to the crowds in Washington, D.C., in March. Humidity levels drop down, but a light jacket is advisable as the rain is unpredictable. Better, be equipped with some warm clothes as there is always a possibility of an odd cold wave or two.
Weather in April
April spreads greenery all over the landscape, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spectacular event enjoyed by visitors from all over the globe. With daily temperatures in the pleasant mid-sixties, the weather is beautiful, and the skies are clear most of the time. Rain is no stranger in these parts, and it is a good idea for tourists to carry some protective gear. Watch out for the great White House Easter Egg Roll in the beautiful April weather.
Weather in May
May is the wettest month of the year at 4" (101.6mm), but also enjoys many sunny days with average temperatures in the range of 55°F (12.8°C) to 75°F (23.9°C). It is a good idea to bring a light jacket or an umbrella to watch the National Memorial Day Parade. The sunshine increases to more than 6 hours as the daylight extends to 12 hours. Sunny May is one of the best times to visit Washington, D.C., but it is also one of the busiest, and it is better to plan early to get the best hotels.
Weather in June
Summer starts in June in Washington, D.C., and it is hot and humid. It is an excellent time for paddle boating or kayaking on the Potomac River and admiring the various memorials while moving through the water. Daily average temperatures rise to a warm 84°F (28.9°C), and numerous outdoor activities beckon the tourists. Heat is not an issue in air-conditioned places like the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum or the Library of Congress. Hop into a restaurant for well-made food, drink, and a break from the sweltering heat.
Weather in July
July is the hottest month of the year, with peak temperatures of 88°F (31.1°C). Brilliant sunshine lasts 9.4 hours daily; avoid the scorching mid-day sun or take adequate protection with the sun's ultraviolet index shooting to a dangerous 9. Rain with thundershowers is frequent during the summer, but light enough to enjoy fun events like the Independence Day celebrations. The bicycle-friendly tracks around the Potomac River are a fun way for tourists to explore Washington, D.C. during the summer.
Weather in August
August is a hot summer month with average daily temperatures ranging in between 70°F (21.1°C) to 86°F (30°C). The skies are mostly sunny and bright, but occasional afternoon thunderstorms bring cloudy and rainy weather. August is an enjoyable time to visit the vast number of historic sites, gaze at the stunning marble monuments, and visit museums. Washington, D.C. is a busy place, and visitors are spoilt for choice between the various outdoor festivals, parks, botanical gardens, and zoos. Swimming in the sea is a fantastic way to beat the summer.
Weather in September
Fall weather brings the average daily temperatures in the range of a comfortable 63°F (17.2°C) to 79°F (26.1°C). September is one of the best intervals to visit Washington, D.C., with fewer crowds compared to spring and summer due to the end of the school breaks. There are fewer lines to stand in, and more time to enjoy the tours in the lovely autumn. Be sure to pack some warm clothes to protect from an odd cold bout or two. The Library of Congress National Book Festival during September is also an entertaining way to pass rainy fall afternoons.
Weather in October
Fall foliage contrasting with Washington, D.C.'s marble monuments, is at its peak in the mildly cool October. Average low temperatures drop to the fifties, and the afternoons and evenings tend to be breezy. Rain marks its presence occasionally, and it is advisable to dress in warm clothes. Make the most of the warmth before the arrival of winter - walk around, enjoy the picturesque surroundings, or take a guided Washington, D.C. tour.
Weather in November
November is the last month of the fall, with the average daily highs still at a warm 58°F (14.4°C). Daily sunshine lasts for 5 hours, and the days become short, but sunny days are not entirely scarce. The weather is mildly cold, but many outdoor activities are more enjoyable with the reduction in crowds. Rain is less frequent, and November is usually the month of the first arrival of snow in Washington, D.C.
Weather in December
December is a cold winter month with average lows dropping to 32°F (0°C). The weather is unpredictable, with sunny days interspersed between intense cold days. Daily average high is cold 46°F (7.8°C), but sometimes cold waves and winds resemble glacially chilly conditions. Many art and theater establishments entertain enthusiastic souls inside their premises, and Washington, D.C. is home to more than a hundred historical sites and museums that may keep a tight budget visitor occupied in winter. [Resources]
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District of Columbia, USA - most visited locations