Missouri has humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfa) in its northern portion and humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa) type of climate in its southern part. Summers are hot and long, while winters are cold and snowy. Extreme temperatures routinely register in Missouri due to lack of mountain ranges and large water bodies. The cold Arctic air and the hot and humid Gulf of Mexico mainly influence the climate. Part of the American Midwest, Missouri shares borders with Illinois in the east, Kentucky and Tennessee in the southeast, Arkansas in the south, Oklahoma in the southwest, Kansas in the west, Nebraska in the northwest, and Iowa in the north.
Missouri, the Cave State, has an average elevation of 244 meters above sea level, with the highest point at Taum Sauk Mountain at 540 meters. The Missouri River runs through the center of the state and along with major tributaries, joins the Mississippi in the east. The topography consists of rolling hills in the north, fertile plateaus in the south, forests, rivers, and karst formations with caves and sinkholes. The Bootheel region in the southeast corner is the state's most fertile land and the flattest, wettest, and warmest part. Earthquakes have occurred in the Bootheel region in the past.
Summers are hot and humid in Missouri with average high temperatures in the 80°F (26.7°C) to 90°F (32.2°C) range, but it is common to observe many days together that remain above 100°F (37.8°C). June is the rainiest month, but July and August in the summer experience occasional incidences of extreme precipitation. Winters are long, cold, and icy in the majority of the state but mild in the southeast. Nights are often freezing, with temperatures below 0°F (-17.8°C) in many places. The cold season is the driest period of the year, yet the precipitation is significant. Spring is mild but prone to thunderstorms and tornadoes. Autumn is pleasant, marked with a decrease in rainfall by late fall.
The annual rainfall in Missouri ranges from an average 40" (1016mm) in the north to 45" (1143mm) in the south. Precipitation occurs throughout the year, but spring is the wettest season, and April to June is generally the wettest period. Snowfall is moderate to heavy, with an average of fifteen snowy days in the year that gathers 15" (381mm) to 20" (508mm) of snowfall. Missouri receives ample sunshine of at least 2500 to 2800 hours annually across the state. The average relative humidity lies between 65% and 70% and is at the highest during spring and summer.
Warsaw holds the record of the highest temperature of 118°F (47.8°C) on July 14, 1954, in Missouri, and also of the coldest recorded temperature of -40°F (-40°C) on February 13, 1905.
The best time to visit Missouri
The best time to visit Missouri is during the fall season, especially during September and October. The summer temperatures ease considerably during the autumn, and the humidity gives way to pleasant weather. Thunderstorms and tornadoes are rare and lack intensity at the end of summer. April and May have comfortable temperatures, but Missouri is wet during the spring season. September sees the leaves changing colors, while October is the period of peak fall foliage across the state. The autumn has many festivals, and the season is lively with beautiful weather.
The worst time to visit Missouri
The worst time to visit Missouri is from December to February in the winter. The cold season occasionally records extreme temperatures that dip below -20°F (-28.9°C) during the night, while the days scarcely cross 40°F (4.4°C). Snowfall is frequent in the winter and often registers in large amounts. Ice storms occur during the cold season that stalls the movement of vehicles and people. Arctic winds from Canada and the northern plains invade the state as there are no high mountain ranges to act as barriers. Wind increases the effect of the cold manifold. The skies remain gloomy in the absence of adequate sunlight.
Missouri is vulnerable to droughts, thunderstorms, floods, and tornadoes in the spring and summer, and ice storms in the winter. Severe thunderstorms occur during spring and summer. Rivers and their tributaries flood during late spring with the melting of snow. Heavy rains during thunderstorms cause flash floods. The northern part of the state is colder than the rest of the state and prone to ice storms. The southeast region of Missouri has a history of moderate-intensity earthquakes. Missouri lies in the Tornado Alley of the United States and is prone to storms of EF4 strength and, occasionally, an EF5. Missouri registers an average of 35 tornadoes annually.
Weather in January
January is usually the coldest and snowiest month of the year in Missouri, with extreme temperatures occurring infrequently. The average low temperatures are below freezing, between 14°F (-10°C) to 28°F (-2.2°C), while the average high temperatures are in the cold 33°F (0.6°C) to 46°F (7.8°C) range. Jefferson City, the capital in the central region averages between 21°F (-6.1°C) to 40°F (4.4°C), while Maryville in the far northwest is frigid between 14°F (-10°C) to 34°F (1.1°C). Temperatures increase steadily while moving from the northwest to the southeast. January is the driest month with drizzly, freezing rain. Skiing, sledding, and snow tubing are popular winter activities in places such as Snow Creek in Weston. Days are short, with moderate sunshine that lasts for 5 to 6 hours. Ice storms are common in the northern than the southern part of the state. Wear layered clothing and warm coats as strong Arctic winds sweep the land periodically in the winter. New Year attracts visitors, but January is a month of low tourist footprint.
Weather in February
February is a cold winter month in Missouri with mild days and freezing nights. The skies are gloomy except for periods of warm sunshine on both sides of noon. Day temperatures are in the average range of 39°F (3.9°C) to 51°F (10.6°C), while nights are bitter and icy between 18°F (-7.8°C) to 32°F (0°C). Snowfall is regular but rarely accumulates on the ground for long periods in the plateaus and southern regions. Kansas City receives 3.2" (81.3mm) of snow, while Saint Louis gathers 4.3" (109.2mm) in February. The Ozarks are colder and rainier than the rest of the state, especially at higher altitudes. Sunny days are rare and average hardly eight to ten days in the month. Sporadic ice storms and strong gales blow during the winter. Heavy snowfall sets the ground for ice skating, sledding, and snowboarding. Dress in layers and keep afternoons vacant for outdoors when the sunshine is at its best. Expect the temperatures to rise steadily by the end of February in Missouri.
Weather in March
March is cold at the beginning of the spring season in Missouri, with an uptick in the precipitation. Rainfall is in the range of 3" (76.2mm) to 5" (127mm), with Caruthersville in the south registering 4.4" (111.8mm) in the month. During the day temperatures average in the warm 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) range, while the nights remain above freezing in most of the state. Early spring occasionally encounters cold waves that dip the temperatures below freezing in northern Missouri. Snowfall tapers down, and the 1" (25.4mm) to 2" (50.8mm) of snow rarely stays on the ground for more than a day. The sunshine increases to a daily 7 hours that steadily warms the land with the progress of the spring season. Spring break is full of activities like riverboat cruises, biking, and hiking on the natural trails, with warm days for sightseeing. Spectacular views wait during the periods of clear skies of March for brave ones who take the tram to the top of Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Weather in April
April is warm and wet in Missouri with comfortable weather and partly cloudy skies. The average high temperatures are in the wonderfully warm 62°F (16.7°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) range, while nights are mild in the 39°F (3.9°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) statewide. Lake Ozark in central Missouri, with its calm waters and plenty of recreational activities, registers pleasant temperatures between 44°F (6.7°C) to 68°F (20°C). April records 4" (101.6mm) to 6" (152.4mm) of rainfall in the middle of the spring season with warm sunshine that lasts for a daily 7 to 8 hours. Lakes, streams, and rivers roar with freshwater as beautiful wildflowers bloom all over the landscape. Wind speeds seldom exceed 10 to 15 miles per hour during the warm but humid days of spring. Pack a light sweater for the evening and a rain jacket or umbrella for outdoors during the day. Expect thunderstorm activity to be on the rise during spring and keep an eye on the weather for storms. April is a good time for a Missouri trip for visitors who do not mind a little rain.
Weather in May
May is wet with plenty of sunshine amid a moderate amount of rain in Missouri. The average high temperatures are in the warm 72°F (22.2°C) to 79°F (26.1°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the mild 51°F (10.6°C) to 57°F (13.9°C) zone. Springfield in the south averages between 54°F (12.2°C) to 75°F (23.9°C), while Hannibal in the north is between 53°F (11.7°C) to 73°F (22.8°C). Rainfall is between 5" (127mm) to 6" (152.4mm) in the state, with occasional heavy showers that result in flash floods. Activities like fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and river rafting, gather steam in the pleasant conditions of spring. The fresh air enlightens the spirit as the prairie adorns a blanket of greenery. State parks, zoos, and museums witness crowds as people take advantage of the excellent weather. Sweatshirts and t-shirts are suitable for afternoons, while long pants are better in the evenings. Expect hail to be a prominent feature of the weather in May. Watch out for tornadoes in Missouri during the spring, which can bring strong winds out of nowhere.
Weather in June
June is the wettest month of the year in Missouri that brings moderate to heavy rainfall in the state. Thunderstorms bring the majority of rainfall, which can cross 5" (127mm) to 7" (177.8mm) in 24 hours. The average high temperatures are between 80°F (26.7°C) to 87°F (30.6°C), while the average low temperatures are in the 61°F (16.1°C) to 66°F (18.9°C) range. Poplar Bluff in the south registers warm average temperatures in the 66°F (18.9°C) to 87°F (30.6°C) range, while Kirksville in the center is mild in the range of 61°F (16.1°C) to 81°F (27.2°C). June records 9 to 10 hours of bright sunshine. Humidity is high as the atmosphere is heavy with moisture-laden clouds. Missouri lies in the Tornado Alley of America, and summers are prone to tornadoes. Hailstorms are common and destroy crops. Wear a rain jacket or carry an umbrella. Avoid outdoor explorations in the afternoon when the chances of storms are the highest of the day. Expect rain and shine to alternate in June in Missouri.
Weather in July
July is by far the hottest and sunniest month of the year in Missouri, with occasional instances of extreme rainfall. The humidity goes up to 90% during the mornings in Kansas City and Saint Louis, which are pockets in the state that experience the urban heat island effect. Day highs often cross 100°F (37.8°C), with the central Ozarks cooler than the southern portion of Missouri. The average high temperatures across the state are in the hot 86°F (30°C) to 92°F (33.3°C), while nights show large variations up to 30°F (-1.1°C) from the day. The precipitation is to the tune of 4" (101.6mm) to 6" (152.4mm) and is mainly from thunderstorms and occasionally hailstorms. Summer is the peak tourist season with camping, fishing, biking, and trailing gaining momentum. The sun is scorching and shines for at least 10 hours a day. The sunny days witness crowds at the lake and river beaches. Sun goggles and sunscreen are handy to combat the blazing sun in July in Missouri.
Weather in August
August is a hot and humid month in the summer season of Missouri. Springfield in the south averages between 67°F (19.4°C) to 89°F (31.7°C), while Saint Joseph in the north is between 64°F (17.8°C) to 86°F (30°C). High temperatures often cross 100°F (37.8°C) in south Missouri and stay there for at least three days in the week. Sunny days with clear skies dominate the monthly weather along with periodic bursts of rain. Nights are comfortable with a significant variation from the day temperatures. Sweatshirts and t-shirts are the best clothes to beat the heat and humidity. Swimming holes are full of visitors wanting to share the calm waters. The landscape is fascinating as far as the eye can reach with blossoming flowers amid a blanket of greenery. Precipitation slows down considerably by the end of August. Expect the temperature to decrease by the end of summer steadily. Tornadoes occasionally strike Missouri in August, but the storm season tapers off by the end of summer.
Weather in September
September is one of the best times to visit Missouri with pleasant conditions that see blue skies, comfortable temperatures, and moderate rain. The landscape adorns beautiful colors all over the prairie and the rolling hills. The average high temperatures in early fall are in the warm 77°F (25°C) to 82°F (27.8°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the mild 55°F (12.8°C) to 62°F (16.7°C) zone. Northern Missouri is cooler than the rest of the state, with warm days and comfortable nights. Fall days range from partly cloudy to mostly sunny, with breezy evenings and wonderful mornings. Biking and trailing is a great way to experience the beauty of the changing colors. Leaves turn color by mid-September in many areas, including the hardwoods in the Ozark region. September is enjoyable with plenty of festivals amid mild weather in Missouri. The rainfall registers between 3" (76.2mm) to 5" (127mm) and is generally in the form of showers. A light jacket keeps the wind and breeze at bay during the evenings.
Weather in October
October brings pleasant temperatures and beautiful colors to Missouri in the middle of the autumn season. The fall foliage is at its peak, and the vibrant colors range from orange and red to yellow and golden. The end of the harvest season is a time for festivities in the mild autumn weather. An odd year may see the first snowflakes in the state by the last week of October. The average high temperatures are in the perfect range of 65°F (18.3°C) to 70°F (21.1°C), while the nights are slightly cold with the average temperatures in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 45°F (7.2°C) zone. Columbia in the center averages between 47°F (8.3°C) to 68°F (20°C), while Ozark Beach in the north registers between 45°F (7.2°C) to 70°F (21.1°C). The rainfall rarely exceeds 4" (101.6mm) as the daily sunshine lasts for 7 hours. Wear a jacket or sweater during the windy fall evenings. Go for a scenic drive with the wind in the face. Mark Twain National Forest in southeastern Missouri is perfect for a fall foliage tour in October.
Weather in November
November ends the beautiful fall season in Missouri with a significant drop in temperatures. The average high temperatures are in the mild range of 55°F (12.8°C) to 60°F (15.6°C), but the average low temperatures drop below freezing in many places and range between 30°F (-1.1°C) to 40°F (4.4°C). Places like Maryville and Trenton in the north register many nights at 30°F (-1.1°C) and below. Snowfall is light and registers to the tune of 1" (25.4mm) to 2" (50.8mm) in the state. The growing season ends with the freezing of the ground. Cold fronts are standard with the movement of cold air masses from the Canadian Plains. The days become short as the daily sunshine hardly lasts for 5 hours. Tourist numbers dwindle by late autumn, but the conditions are tolerable for budget travelers seeking cheap accommodations. The mild southern regions of Missouri, especially the Bootheel area, is a beautiful place to visit in November. Pack in layers during the cold nights. Expect the cold to increase significantly by the end of November in Missouri.
Weather in December
December is the beginning of the cold winter season in Missouri with the average high temperatures in the 37°F (2.8°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) range and the average low temperatures in the freezing 18°F (-7.8°C) to 31°F (-0.6°C) range across the state. The average temperatures in Trenton in the north are between 20°F (-6.7°C) to 38°F (3.3°C), while those in Joplin in the south are between 28°F (-2.2°C) to 47°F (8.3°C). Snowfall occurs regularly in the state and is massive in the northern portion where it exceeds 5" (127mm) in many places. The southern part is rainier than the rest with 4" (101.6mm) of precipitation. Precipitation is heavy in the Ozark Mountains at higher elevations. Trout fishing is popular in the state parks of the Ozark valleys, with fewer crowds giving better chances to catch the fish in the winter. December sees a marked reduction in the number of daylight hours and sunshine. Be prepared for extreme temperature swings, especially during the night. Overall, people who are wary of the cold can skip Missouri in December.