Maryland has a wide range of climatic conditions. The eastern half has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) due to proximity to the ocean. The western half has an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb) that changes to humid continental (Köppen Dfa) from the Cumberland Valley onwards to the remaining western portion. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are cold and snowy. Maryland lies in the Mid-Atlantic region and borders Delaware in the east, Virginia in the south, West Virginia in the west, and Pennsylvania in the north. The Atlantic Ocean influences the climate to a large extent, while the Appalachian Mountains and katabatic winds protect from extreme cold.
Maryland has an average elevation of 110 meters, with the highest point at Hoye-Crest at 1024 meters. The nickname Little America is due to the varied topography that consists of sandy dunes, low marshlands, forests, and gently rolling hills. Western Maryland has heavily forested mountains, while the Eastern Shore that lies east of the Chesapeake Bay is full of bald cypress trees and marshlands. The Appalachian Mountains in the west are home to temperate broadleaf and mixed forests. The Potomac River forms the southern boundary of the state. Construction of many man-made lakes has compensated for the absence of natural lakes.
Summers are warm to hot and humid in Maryland with peak temperatures above 100°F (37.8°C) in July. The Atlantic coastal areas have higher humidity and consequently oppressive summers than the interior. Spring and fall are mild and prone to sudden changes in weather. Frost is common in the lower valleys as cold air masses tend to stay close to the ground. Cyclones and anticyclones rapidly change the conditions with cold fronts and warm fronts succeeding each other. Winters are severely cold and snowy and nights often register below 0°F (-17.8°C). The Allegheny Plateau receives heavy snow and precipitation from December to February. The Appalachian Mountains provide a barrier from the arctic cold in the winter as the eastern slopes of the mountains warm the descending air by 10°F (-12.2°C) or more.
Maryland's average annual rainfall is an ample 44" (1117.6mm) and ranges from 37" (939.8mm) in the Cumberland area to 48" (1219.2mm) in the Allegheny Plateau. The precipitation distribution is even over the year with a peak during the summer. Snowfall lasts from September to May in the coldest regions and varies considerably according to region and altitude. It is common for snowstorms to drop 12" (304.8mm) to 25" (635mm) of snow during a day. Snowfall ranges from 5" (127mm) to 15" (381mm) on the eastern shore to 30" (762mm) to 40" (1016mm) in the western highlands. Oakland receives a massive 106" (2692.4mm) of snow annually. The annual sunshine in Maryland ranges between 2200 to 2500 hours.
Cumberland holds the record of the highest temperature in Maryland of 109°F (42.8°C) on July 10, 1936, while Oakland holds the record for the lowest temperature of -40°F (-40°C) on January 13, 1912.
The best time to visit Maryland
The best time to visit Maryland is from May to September when the ground is free from snow and ice. Late spring has milder temperatures than the summer, but numerous festivals make accommodations costlier, and students swell visitor numbers during spring break. Early spring has fewer crowds and cheap flights. Summer tends to be hot and humid, with long daylight hours and bright sunshine. June and July see the peak of the tourist season with many families in vacation mood. Early fall has mild temperatures and is a great time to witness the changing leaves.
The worst time to visit Maryland
The worst time to visit Maryland is during the chilly winter season from December to February. Late fall brings cold but sees many visitors who wish to experience the scenic landscape bathed in different colors. Winter accumulates plenty of snow in the western portion of the state, particularly the highlands, while snowfall occurs routinely in the rest of the state. Blizzards occasionally occur to cause damage to property and stall everyday life. The roads are icy and filled with slush, a mixture of snow and ice that makes driving hazardous. The days are short, and the sunlight is weak, while nights are freezing and drops below 0°F (-17.8°C) in many places.
Maryland is vulnerable to tropical cyclones due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, but they seldom have strength above EF3. Storms that approach from the Gulf of Mexico or the southeastern United States bring adverse weather. Six tornadoes on an average strike the state each year. Thunderstorms are frequent in late spring and summer and occur on 30 to 40 days annually. Strong easterly and northeasterly winds, high tides and torrential rain are the features of these nor'easter storms. Hailstorms rarely occur, while flooding is common upstream of the Potomac River due to heavy rain during storms in the summer and fall. Blizzards are common in the winter and stall several parts of Maryland.
Weather in January
January is by far the coldest and snowiest month of the year in Maryland as the temperatures race towards the bottom. Nights are below freezing and drop below 0°F (-17.8°C) regularly in several places. The average low temperatures are in the frigid 16°F (-8.9°C) to 30°F (-1.1°C), while the average high temperatures are in the cold 35°F (1.7°C) to 47°F (8.3°C) zone. January sees 5" (127mm) to 10" (254mm) of snow everywhere except the coast and deposits of 20" (508mm) and above are standard in the mountains. Head towards the western mountains for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Outdoor ice skating rinks are available throughout the state. Winter is an off-season with raining discounts on flights and hotel accommodations. Fewer crowds offer unobstructed views of the panoramic mountains, while the beaches on the eastern shore offer plenty of space for walking. Pack in layers with a winter coat to encounter the icy precipitation. Expect moderate sunshine for a few hours during the day as the skies are mostly dark in January in Maryland.
Weather in February
February has occasional nights that are above freezing but the cold winter season is very much alive in Maryland. Annapolis, the capital at the center of the state, registers average between 31°F (-0.6°C) to 48°F (8.9°C), while Oakland is cold between 17°F (-8.3°C) to 38°F (3.3°C). Mountains resist the icy blast of the arctic air and are responsible for the relatively warmer temperatures on their eastern slopes. Heaters run all the time everywhere from groceries and libraries to schools and offices. The western Maryland scenic railroad with steam-engine powered trains on the narrow, snow-scattered tracks seems to be straight on the way to Hogwarts. The usually crowded Chesapeake Beach is peaceful during the winter with fewer crowds. Sledding and snow tubing are popular with plenty of rolling hills in the state. A cozy cabin with snow falling steadily in the background and a hot chocolate in hand is a dream come true for many. Snowstorms frequently occur in Maryland in February and blizzards deposit vast amounts of snow.
Weather in March
March is cold in Maryland as early spring spreads its wings over the landscape. The skies are partly cloudy, but there are clear signs of the change in seasons. The days grow long, and the sun smiles for 5 to 6 hours. Day temperatures average between mild 48°F (8.9°C) to 58°F (14.4°C) range, while nights are cold in the 25°F (-3.9°C) to 38°F (3.3°C) zone. The precipitation is to the tune of 3" (76.2mm) to 5" (127mm) and rarely icy. Snowfall is drastically less and limits to 5" (127mm) in the plains. Frequent cold and warm weather spells keep the conditions unpredictable. It is prudent to carry a light rain jacket in Maryland during spring. Fresh and beautiful mornings can quickly descend into gloominess that as rapidly change into sunny afternoons. The countryside is a combination of white, brown, and green colors. Black-eyed susans grow everywhere without restrictions. A light sweater gives extra warmth during March days in Maryland.
Weather in April
April is warm and beautiful in Maryland as the bright sunshine quickly thaws the remaining patches of ice and snow. The last snow usually disappears by the month-end except for the high altitudes of the western mountains. Hiking, trailing, bird-watching, sightseeing or soaking the sun rays on the eastern shores are a few of the many popular activities during spring. The landscape is colorful with flowers blooming everywhere, and their sweet smell attracts all the species. Central Maryland registers average temperatures between a mild to warm 41°F (5°C) to 68°F (20°C), while the western part remains a little cold in the 34°F (1.1°C) to 65°F (18.3°C) zone. Nights are generally above freezing except during cold fronts where they fall below 32°F (0°C). Early tourists arrive in the hope of fewer crowds, especially on the Atlantic shores where the conditions are warm. The 10 miles of the public beach at Ocean City witnesses many visitors during the spring. Watch out for unexpected rain in April in Maryland.
Weather in May
May is a beautiful spring month in Maryland with pleasant weather between rain and shine. The average high temperatures are in the warm 68°F (20°C) to 77°F (25°C) zone, while the nights are mild in the average range of 45°F (7.2°C) to 57°F (13.9°C). Baltimore in the central region registers between a comfortable 52°F (11.1°C) to 74°F (23.3°C), while Hagerstown in the west is between 52°F (11.1°C) to 72°F (22.2°C). The rainfall on the coast is lesser than the western part of the state. Consequently, the eastern shore draws crowds of students and visitors during spring break. The green surroundings, freshwater in the rivers, and the warmth of the sun create a brilliant atmosphere full of energy. Migratory birds arrive at their destinations by early spring and exceed numbers by the end of the spring season. Biking and hiking on nature trails is a great way to explore nature. The abundant freshwaters ensure plenty of fish in the rivers for fishing enthusiasts. May is the perfect time to beat the summer crowds in Maryland.
Weather in June
June is warm and sunny in Maryland with long days and patches of hot weather. The average high temperatures shoot up in the 75°F (23.9°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range, while average low temperatures are around a comfortable 53°F (11.7°C) to 65°F (18.3°C). Cumberland in the west has several hot days with average temperatures in the 60°F (15.6°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) zone, while Baltimore in central region averages between 62°F (16.7°C) to 83°F (28.3°C). The Atlantic High moves in the northwest direction and influences the eastern United States. Southwesterly winds bring warm and moist air in the air along with occasional storms. Beware of storms that originate in the Gulf of Mexico and move forward northward as they frequently bring violent winds, widespread rain, and high tides in the Atlantic Ocean. Summer is an ideal time for freshwater fishing and to hunt for cool swimming holes. Light summer clothing is sufficient during the day in June in Maryland with sunscreen protection in the hot areas.
Weather in July
July is usually the hottest and sunniest month of the year in Maryland. The average high temperatures shoot up between 81°F (27.2°C) to 90°F (32.2°C), while the average low temperatures remain in the comfortable 58°F (14.4°C) to 71°F (21.7°C) range. Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, averages between 67°F (19.4°C) to 87°F (30.6°C). Rain is heavy during storms and amounts to 5" (127mm) in the state. The ocean waters are mild, and the beaches are full of summer visitors. The eastern shore sees more rain than the rest of the state due to occasional stormy weather. Ocean City is a popular summer destination as the daytime highs remain 10°F (-12.2°C) to 15°F (-9.4°C) lower than the inland regions. The peak summer is also perfect for a stay in the mountains as temperatures cool down by 10°F (-12.2°C) per 1000 meters increase in altitude. Places in the west like Mountain Lake Park offer comfortable weather during the summer. Beware of the fact that twenty-five percent of the total annual thunderstorms occur in July in Maryland.
Weather in August
August is a hot summer month in Maryland with average high temperatures in the 81°F (27.2°C) to 87°F (30.6°C). Frederick in the central region averages between 66°F (18.9°C) to 87°F (30.6°C), while Hagerstown in the west is between 64°F (17.8°C) to 83°F (28.3°C). Days are hot, and temperatures frequently cross 90°F (32.2°C). Nights are comfortable even during hot and humid days. An average of ten wet days in the month brings 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) of rainfall. The fishing season is in full swing, and there is even a crab festival during the summer. Visitors crowd the white, sandy beaches and water parks as the hot sun takes its toll. It is imperative to wear sunscreen to protect from the scorching sun, which emits dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation. Low-pressure belts over the New England region usually bring dry and clear weather in Maryland. Temperatures cross 90°F (32.2°C) for an average of 30 to 40 days in the summer, and many of those occur during August in Maryland.
Weather in September
September brings the mild fall season to Maryland with changing colors and a pleasant atmosphere. Temperatures retreat from the peak to average in the moderate 70°F (21.1°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) range during the day and 55°F (12.8°C) to 62°F (16.7°C) in the night. Fall evenings are breezy everywhere, with lower temperatures in the western portion than the rest of the state. The thunderstorm activity decreases significantly, but one or two storms are standard in September. The precipitation is generally less compared to the summer. Crisp and clear days are perfect for scenic drives along the countryside. The leaves change colors by the third week of September, which is an excellent period for camping under the starlight skies. Orchards are full of apples, and there are plenty of pumpkin patches and mazes of corn. Expect the landscape to adorn a wide array of colors as temperatures decrease steadily with the advance of the fall season. September is one of the best times to visit Maryland with fewer crowds and pristine weather.
Weather in October
October is the time of peak fall foliage in Maryland with brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and gold. The best way to enjoy the fall colors is to hike through one of the numerous state parks or watch the picturesque shores while traveling over a lake or river. The average high temperatures are in the range of 60°F (15.6°C) to 70°F (21.1°C), but cold fronts can lower them quickly. The average low temperatures register in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 52°F (11.1°C) zone as evenings cool down rapidly. The skies are partly cloudy at times, but there is no shortage of sunny days. A light sweater works best in the evenings, but the jacket is better when the conditions become cold. The growing season slowly comes to an end as festivals abound at the end of a full harvest season. Budget travelers find late fall at the end of October an excellent time to visit Maryland with cheap accommodations and bearable cold.
Weather in November
November is cold amid partly cloudy skies as the autumn season gradually wanes in Maryland. The leaves retain color till the mid of the month but fall slowly with the rapid decrease in temperatures. Day high temperatures average in the mild 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (15.6°C), while nights occasionally drop below freezing. Western Maryland is colder than the rest of the state with average temperatures in the 32°F (0°C) to 57°F (13.9°C) zone in places like Cumberland, Hagerstown, and Oakland. Snowfall is light in most places but registers up to 7" (177.8mm) in Oakland in the west. Cold fronts are standard as the first of the snowstorms hits the state. The daily sunshine lasts for 4 to 5 hours although a few days witness entirely gloomy skies. The days become short with unmistakable signs of changing seasons. November is a wonderful time to enjoy the wine festivals and sit snuggly in the comfort of a cozy cabin during the snowfall in Maryland.
Weather in December
December is the beginning of the cold winter season in Maryland with gloomy skies, icy rain, and ample snow. The average high temperatures are in the cold 39°F (3.9°C) to 50°F (10°C), while the average low temperatures lie in the freezing 21°F (-6.1°C) to 33°F (0.6°C) zone. The Atlantic Ocean moderates the eastern shore, while downslope winds keep temperatures warm by 10°F (-12.2°C) on the eastern side of the mountains. Western Maryland receives the heaviest snowfall in the state in the range of 5" (127mm) to 10" (254mm) barring the mountains which register above 15" (381mm). The precipitation is to the tune of 3" (76.2mm) to 5" (127mm) and occasionally mixes with the ice. Slush and icy roads are a dangerous driving combination along with low visibility in the winter. Cascade Falls and Muddy Creek Falls like many of their kind offer breathtaking views with frost fingers and icicles hanging from the steep rocks. Wear warm winter coats in December in Maryland to protect from the numbing cold. [Resources]
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