The climate of Iowa
experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa) with hot summers and cold winters.
Missouri in the south, Nebraska in the west, South Dakota in the northwest, Minnesota in the north, Wisconsin in the northeast and Illinois in the east, bordering the state. Iowa lies in the far interior of the continent, and the majority of the state rests in a similar climatic zone. The near absence of high mountain ranges, decline in tree cover, and remoteness from major seas and oceans contribute to extreme seasonal variations in the weather.
Iowa, the Hawkeye state, mainly consists of prairie and savanna type grasslands, forests, and wetlands, although agriculture lands, pastures, and urban dwellings have replaced most of the original natural habitat. The state is short of towering mountain ranges. However, the landscape is uneven with many rolling hills, lakes such as Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake, East Okoboji Lake, and Clear Lake, and rivers such as the Mississippi, Missouri, Big Sioux, and Des Moines. Northeast Iowa consists of steep hills and valleys in contrast to the rest of the state.
Summer is hot and humid and usually the rainiest season of the year. Day temperatures are often in the 90°F (32.2°C) to 100°F (37.8°C) zone but rarely cross 100°F (37.8°C) in the peak of July
. Nights are warm and regularly lie in the 60°F (15.6°C) to 65°F (18.3°C) range. Winter is severely cold as even the day temperatures frequently plummet below freezing, and the mercury column is not averse to display -20°F (-28.9°C) in January
. Spring is a pleasant season with temperate weather but is wet and prone to thunderstorms and tornadoes. Autumn displays beautiful colors across the landscape, and the early fall period is quite enjoyable compared to the later when windy conditions frequently create spells of chilly weather.
Iowa registers 35" (889mm) of rain throughout the year, which sees uneven distribution between the seasons as summer alone records more than two-thirds of the annual precipitation in the state. January is usually the driest month in the state, while June
is the wettest. Iowa often experiences flooding during the summer due to the rapid melting of snow and when the rainfall exceeds the average. Snowfall is frequent during the winter, but vast deposits rarely accumulate in short periods as an average of 30" (762mm) accumulates in the state. The Iowa sun is blazing during the summer, and the state receives 2686 hours of sunlight over the year.
The record high temperature for Iowa is 118°F (47.8°C), set in Keokuk on July 20, 1934, while the lowest recorded temperature is -47°F (-43.9°C), set in Elkader on February
The best time to visit Iowa
Autumn is the best time to visit Iowa
, during September
, while late fall is cold and windy.
The conditions are pleasant compared to the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Late spring is subject to thunderstorms, while summer experiences severe flooding many times. The middle part of spring around April
is also an excellent time to visit Iowa. Summers tend to be hot and humid and the peak tourist season in Iowa, so traveling during the spring and fall is more economical than during the summer.
The worst time to visit Iowa
is the worst time to visit Iowa
as the state lies in the grip of severe cold weather and extreme temperatures.
Cold waves from the Canadian north are common during the winter, with the lack of natural barriers to the polar winds in the form of high mountain ranges. Many towns accumulate snow in moderate amounts during the winter and days are rarely above freezing in the majority of Iowa. Winter is an off-season due to the lack of mountain slopes and the soft nature of the snow, which is not useful for exciting adventure activities.
is vulnerable to thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods in late spring and the majority of the summer. Summer is subject to hail and damaging winds during the storms that destroy the crops. Roughly 50 thunderstorms and 47 tornadoes average in Iowa every year, mostly during the spring and summer. Heavy rainfall and the rapid thawing of snow during the summer cause severe flooding that results in large-scale destruction and stalls day-to-day life. Winter storms are common but rarely deposit large amounts of snow. More than the storms, the severe cold is a serious threat during the winter.
Weather in January
is the coldest month of the year in Iowa
, with temperatures in the frigid zone. The average temperatures in the western part of the state are between 5°F (-15°C) to 34°F (1.1°C); central is between 7°F (-13.9°C) to 32°F (0°C), while the eastern is in the 5°F (-15°C) to 34°F (1.1°C) range. January is the snowiest month of the year with a statewide average of 8" (203mm) to 10" (254mm) - Mason City in central Iowa is one of the highest accumulators of snow at 10.8" (274mm). Weather in January »
Weather in February
lies in the cold winter month of Iowa
with the average temperatures in the cold 9°F (-12.8°C) to 39°F (3.9°C) zone across different regions of the state. Des Moines, the capital that lies in the central part of the state, averages a cold 19°F (-7.2°C) to 36°F (2.2°C). Weather in February »
Weather in March
is a cold month that exhibits the first signs of the spring season in Iowa
. Rain averages to the tune of 2" (51mm) statewide, while snowfall is in the range of 4" (102mm) to 5" (127mm). Spring weather is unpredictable that ranges from cold to sunny days, and there is always a possibility of a cold wave. Weather in March »
Weather in April
is a wet month in Iowa
with 3" (76mm) to 4" (102mm) of rain in the majority of the state. Snow is light and registers hardly 2" (51mm). The advance of spring brings warm temperatures to the delight of the tourist and locals alike. Weather in April »
Weather in May
brings warm temperatures in spring along with cloudy and wet conditions. The average daily temperatures are in the beautiful 70°F (21.1°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range, while the nights are comfortable between 48°F (8.9°C) to 55°F (12.8°C). Weather in May »
Weather in June
begins the summer season in Iowa
as the sun takes charge of the weather and drives away the remnants of the cold. The average high temperatures are in the warm 78°F (25.6°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range, while average low temperatures hover around a mild 55°F (12.8°C) to 62°F (16.7°C). Weather in June »
Weather in July
is usually the hottest month of the year in Iowa
as the sun regularly appears in the skies. The average high temperatures in the state are between 82°F (27.8°C) to 87°F (30.6°C), and the average low temperatures are in 60°F (15.6°C) and 67°F (19.4°C) range. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is a hot and humid month in Iowa
as the majority of the state registers temperatures in the 65°F (18.3°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) average range. The sun appears on the horizon at least for 22 days, while the rest of the month has cloudy skies with wet conditions. Weather in August »
Weather in September
is one of the best times to visit Iowa
as it opens the doors to the beautiful autumn season with pleasant conditions. The summer rains recede to an average of 3" (76mm) to 4" (102mm) by early fall, and stormy weather decreases with them. The sun is present in the sky for at least 21 days, and the sunshine lasts for daily 6 to 7 hours. Weather in September »
Weather in October
is temperate in Iowa
and displays the peak fall foliage in the entire state. It is an excellent time to visit Iowa with pleasant temperatures and scenic landscapes. The average high temperatures are in the range of 60°F (15.6°C) to 67°F (19.4°C), while average low temperatures register 38°F (3.3°C) to 50°F (10°C) across the state. Rain is in the range of 2" (51mm) to 3" (76mm), while the conditions may be a bit frosty awaiting the first signs of snow. Weather in October »
Weather in November
signals the end of the autumn in Iowa
as the temperatures drop substantially. Sunshine reduces to 4 to 5 hours, and the days become short. Cloudy skies are regular as the night temperatures plummet drastically. The average daily temperatures are mild 45°F (7.2°C) to 55°F (12.8°C), while the nights are colder - between 27°F (-2.8°C) and 35°F (1.7°C). Weather in November »
Weather in December
is brutally cold in Iowa
with the average high temperatures in the 28°F (-2.2°C) to 37°F (2.8°C) range and the average low temperatures in the freezing 9°F (-12.8°C) to 21°F (-6.1°C) range. Temperature variations between different parts of the state are unsubstantial, and the days and nights do not see extreme deviations. Weather in December »