The climate of North Dakota
has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) in its eastern half and a semi-arid type (Köppen BSk) in the western half. Summers are warm to hot, while winters are cold. North Dakota is a Midwestern state at the center of the continent of North America. Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south, Montana to the west, and the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan to the northwest and Manitoba to the north share borders with the state. Temperatures and rainfall vary widely due to the interior location in the continent and more than 1000 miles distance from any large water body.
North Dakota, the Peace Garden State, has an average elevation of 580 meters, with the highest point at 903 meters at White Butte. Four geographical regions prominently divide the state. The Great Plains in the southwest include the famous Badlands region along with gently rolling hills and buttes. The Missouri Coteau extends diagonally from the northwest to the south-central border and consists of steep hills. The Glaciated Plains cover the rest of the state with gentle glaciated landscapes, streams, and moraines. The Red River Valley is a glacial lake plan that extends from the eastern border and is exceptionally fertile. Western and south-central rivers and their tributaries drain into the Missouri River, while eastern and north-central ones drain into the Red River.
Summers in North Dakota summers are warm to hot, with the average high temperatures between 77°F (25°C) to 87°F (30.6°C) at the peak of July
. Temperatures touch 90°F (32.2°C) for an average of 10 days in the northeast to 24 in the south. The southwest and south-central regions even witness a few days over 100°F (37.8°C). Winters are cold, with widespread snow cover and extremely variable temperatures. Temperatures fall below 0°F (-17.8°C) for an average of 40 to 70 days statewide. During years of little snowfall, the temperatures remain in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) range. Dry and cold air masses during the winter and hot and warm air in the summer result in large daily fluctuations in temperatures. Spring and autumn are relatively mild, with a caveat of extreme conditions due to frontal air passages and high winds.
The annual precipitation in North Dakota ranges from 14" (356mm) in the west to 22" (559mm) in the east. Late spring and summer are the wettest parts of the year, while winter is the driest season. Snowfall is the prominent form of precipitation in the winter and averages 51" (1295mm) in the year. The state has a history of snowfall in all the months except July and August
. The annual sunshine averages 2737 hours, with a peak of 354 hours in July. The humidity is the highest during the cold season and is in a monthly range of 60% to 75% over the year.
Steele holds the record of the highest ever temperature of 121°F (49.4°C) on July 6, 1936, in North Dakota, while Parshall recorded the coldest temperature of -60°F (-51.1°C) on February
The best time to visit North Dakota
The best time to visit North Dakota
is usually from May
in late spring to October
in the autumn. Summer is typically the peak of the tourist season, and spring and autumn see discounted accommodation and fewer crowds. Thunderstorms and tornadoes are also regular factors to consider during late spring and summer. Autumn temperatures are considerably lower than the summer, and the season is dry. July
are the calmest months in terms of wind speeds, while April
and May are the windiest. Summer afternoons have low humidity compared to the winter.
The worst time to visit North Dakota
The worst time to visit North Dakota
is during the cold winter season from December
. The winter snowpack is persistent at least till March
, and the average snowfall is 51" (1295mm). Arctic air masses reach the heart of the state with little resistance from the north and sweep the Great Plains with impunity. Blizzards average 2 to 3 in the season and reduce visibility to a few feet. Strong winds quickly fill the air with powdery snow, and major highways remain closed during snowstorms. Extremely cold temperatures make winter travel challenging, but there are plenty of fun-filled activities for snow lovers.
is vulnerable to thunderstorms, floods, droughts, tornadoes, and blizzards. Mountains provide a barrier on the western side to the moist air from the Pacific Ocean. The northern and southern sides of the state are open to air masses in all the seasons. Continuous wind in all seasons and temperature variations are the main features of the climate of North Dakota. Extreme cold up to -60°F (-51.1°C) and blizzards are not rare in the winter, nor are temperatures of 121°F (49.4°C) and frequent tornado outbreaks in the summer. Local floods are frequent during late spring and summer due to spring snowmelt and heavy summer rainfall. The Garrison Dam near Bismarck has significantly reduced the danger of the flooding of the Missouri River. Blizzards occasionally sweep the landscape during the cold season.
Weather in January
is usually the coldest month of the year in North Dakota
, with the average low temperatures in the icy -4°F (-20°C) to 6°F (-14.4°C) range. Bottineau and Rugby in the central region witness frigid temperatures in the -4°F (-20°C) to 17°F (-8.3°C) zone. January is the snowiest month with 9" (229mm) to 12" (305mm) of snow in the majority of the state. Weather in January »
Weather in February
is chilly in the winter of North Dakota
as wind and cold take charge of the weather. The nights are severely cold, while the days rarely register temperatures above freezing due to the weak sunlight. The skies are gloomy and partly cloudy due to a rise in humidity. Bismarck, the capital in the central region, receives weak sunshine that results in average temperatures in the icy 8°F (-13.3°C) to 28°F (-2.2°C) range. Weather in February »
Weather in March
is cold in North Dakota
, with signs of the arrival of the spring season in the second half of the month. The average high temperatures are between 34°F (1.1°C) to 41°F (5°C), while the average low temperatures are in the freezing 14°F (-10°C) to 21°F (-6.1°C) range. Weather in March »
Weather in April
brings the mild spring season to North Dakota
, with warm days and cold nights. The day temperatures are usually in the 53°F (11.7°C) to 58°F (14.4°C) range, but the temperatures drop rapidly after sunset. Bottineau in the central region sees night temperatures below 29°F (-1.7°C). The snowfall is moderate by the second half of April and registers to the tune of 3" (76mm) to 5" (127mm) statewide. Weather in April »
Weather in May
is beautiful, with many sunny days in North Dakota
as the land basks in bright sunshine. Tulips bloom everywhere, and birds sing songs of joy. The average high temperatures are in the warm 66°F (18.9°C) to 71°F (21.7°C) zone, while the average low temperatures are in the mild range of 39°F (3.9°C) to 46°F (7.8°C). Weather in May »
Weather in June
begins the hot summer season in North Dakota
, with bright sunshine and long days. The temperatures are comfortable during early summer with the average highs in the 74°F (23.3°C) to 79°F (26.1°C) range. Nights are mild and register in the zone of 50°F (10°C) to 56°F (13.3°C). The eastern region is a little wetter than the west with 3" (76mm) to 4" (102mm) of rainfall, statewide. Weather in June »
Weather in July
is the hottest month of the year in North Dakota
, with the average high temperatures in the range of 80°F (26.7°C) to 87°F (30.6°C). Few places pass the 100°F (37.8°C) mark in the south, and that too, for a day or two. Sunny days are ample along with 3" (76mm) to 4" (102mm) of rainfall in the month. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is a warm summer month in North Dakota
that sees moderately warm temperatures and brilliant sunshine. The average high temperatures are in the 78°F (25.6°C) to 86°F (30°C), but the temperatures fall rapidly after sunset. Weather in August »
Weather in September
brings the beautiful autumn season to North Dakota
. The green prairie, forests, and rivers display fantastic shades of yellow, crimson, orange, and golden colors. The temperatures are in the average range of 42°F (5.6°C) to 74°F (23.3°C). The precipitation is to the tune of 1" (25mm) to 2" (51mm), and the skies remain mostly clear during the autumn days. Weather in September »
Weather in October
lies in the middle of the autumn season in North Dakota
, with a substantial drop in temperatures. The fall foliage is at its peak as nature spreads its colors all over the landscape. The average high temperatures are between 53°F (11.7°C) to 59°F (15°C), while the average low temperatures are between 28°F (-2.2°C) to 35°F (1.7°C). The precipitation is significantly less, with the first flurries of snow by the end of the month. Weather in October »
Weather in November
sees a rapid drop in temperatures in North Dakota
, with the end of the fall season. The fall foliage is past its peak, and the trees begin to show bare limbs by the second half of the month. The average high temperatures are in the cold 35°F (1.7°C) to 42°F (5.6°C) range, while average low temperatures are below freezing in the 15°F (-9.4°C) to 22°F (-5.6°C). Weather in November »
Weather in December
is the start of the cold winter season in North Dakota
with gloomy skies and frequent snowfall. Fargo in the east has freezing temperatures in the 6°F (-14.4°C) to 22°F (-5.6°C) range, while Dickinson in the west is in the frigid zone of 5°F (-15°C) to 29°F (-1.7°C). The majority of the state receives 8" (203mm) to 10" (254mm) of snowfall that keeps the roads slippery. Weather in December »