Climate and monthly weather forecast
Rhode Island, USA

Flag of Rhode Island, USA
Flag of Rhode Island, USA

The climate of Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with warm to hot summers and cold, snowy winters. Rhode Island lies in the southeastern part of New England in the northeastern corner of the United States. Connecticut in the west, Massachusetts in the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast and south share borders with the state. The proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Narragansett Bay and westerly winds influence the climate to a limited extent.

Rhode Island, the Ocean State, is the smallest of all American states, with an average width of 30 miles and a north-south extension of 50 miles. The terrain is flat with numerous ocean beaches, with the highest point at Jerimoth Hill at 247 meters above sea level. The topography mainly consists of hilly uplands in the western two-third, with elevation ranging from 100 to 300 meters. Gently rolling uplands up to 70 meters high lie in the north and east of the Narragansett Bay, while a narrow coastal plain lies on the south shore of the bay. The Blackstone River and its tributaries form the primary river system in the state.

Rhode Island's weather is variable over the seasons from year-to-year, with significant daily variations. Abrupt changes in temperatures, wind, sunshine, and precipitation are common throughout the state. Summers are warm to hot and humid, with an average of eight to ten days that cross 90°F (32.2°C). The interior areas occasionally register temperatures above 100°F (37.8°C), while the coast is cooler by a few degrees. Winter temperatures average from 15°F (-9.4°C) to 20°F (-6.7°C) in most of the state except for the coastal regions where it is slightly higher at 25°F (-3.9°C). Night temperatures drop below 0°F (-17.8°C) for six to eight days in the inland areas, while they are rare in the coastal region. The cold season sees as many as 25 days with highs that remain below 32°F (0°C). Spring and autumn are mild to cold with moderate precipitation.

Rhode Island averages an annual rainfall of 42" (1067mm) to 46" (1168mm) with even distribution over the year. The Bay area receives less rainfall than the western uplands. Early spring and late fall tend to bring the most torrential rainfall. The average snowfall varies from 20" (508mm) to 55" (1397mm) in the state, with the western third contributing the highest amount of snow. Providence and the northern shores of the bay receive 25" (635mm) to 30" (762mm) of snowfall annually. The freeze-free season lasts from 160 to 180 days in most of the state, while it is 200 days in the bay area. The total number of sunny days range from 200 to 210 annually.

Providence recorded Rhode Island's highest temperature of 104°F (40°C) on August 2, 1975, while Greene recorded the lowest temperature of -23°F (-30.6°C) on February 5, 1996.

The best time to visit Rhode Island

The best time to visit Rhode Island is during the beautiful summer from June to August. The temperatures range from warm to hot, and the days are long with bright sunshine. The peak of July is humid along the coast, but the rainfall mostly limits to occasional thunderstorms. Summer is an excellent time for a cruise on the ocean, surfing or snorkeling in the blue waters or simply lying on the pristine beaches. Fall is colorful but cold in the latter half of the season. Spring is often unpredictable, with mild to cold temperatures and unexpected precipitation in the form of rain or snow.

The worst time to visit Rhode Island

The worst time to visit Rhode Island is during the cold winter season from November to February. Snowfall is frequent, and occasional blizzards deposit a large amount of snow. Snowstorms limit visibility and stall everyday life. Winter days are short with mild sunshine at best. Few people enjoy ice skating on the frozen surfaces, but the lack of hills and mountains offers limited opportunities for skiing. Temperatures often drop below 0°F (-17.8°C) during the night at the peak of the winter. Budget travelers find attractive deals during New Year when the cold is at its peak.

Weather hazards

Rhode Island is prone to thunderstorms, hurricanes, floods, and snowstorms. Air masses with origin in higher and lower latitudes to that of the state interact to produce several thunderstorms in the year. Storms that move up from the Atlantic coast bring heavy rain and occasional snow. Snowstorms are frequent in the winter, and raging blizzards deposit vast amounts of snow. Hurricanes and tropical storms frequently invade the state from the eastern sea owing to its location in New England. Hurricane Bob in 1991 remains one of the costliest storms in the history of the state with multiple landfalls and devastation of life and property.

Weather in January

January is by far the coldest month of the year in Rhode Island, with even the day temperatures below freezing on many occasions. The high temperatures during the day average in the cold 34°F (1.1°C) to 40°F (4.4°C) range, while the nightly low temperatures are in the frigid 17°F (-8.3°C) to 25°F (-3.9°C) zone. Weather in January »

Weather in February

February is cold and snowy in Rhode Island as the state battles the icy winter conditions. Providence, the capital, averages between 24°F (-4.4°C) to 40°F (4.4°C), while Newport in the south remains in the 25°F (-3.9°C) to 40°F (4.4°C) range. Weather in February »

Weather in March

March is cold in Rhode Island as early spring is prone to cloudy skies and frequent wet periods. The moody weather swings between sunny and rainy days along with flurries of snow. Day high temperatures are in the mild 46°F (7.8°C) to 49°F (9.4°C) range, while the nights are below freezing. Weather in March »

Weather in April

April is wet and warm in Rhode Island with an occasional cold front that lasts for a short period. The days warm steadily with the rising intensity and regular occurrence of the sunrays. The average temperatures are between 36°F (2.2°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) as cold fronts frequently invade the state. Weather in April »

Weather in May

May is the peak of the spring season in Rhode Island with warm sunshine awakening the landscape. The bright days are full of energy, and the ocean waters invite visitors with their pleasant temperatures. The warm days usually register between 63°F (17.2°C) to 70°F (21.1°C), while the nights are in the mild zone of 45°F (7.2°C) to 50°F (10°C). Weather in May »

Weather in June

June brings the wonderful summer season to Rhode Island with long and sunny days. The daylight increases rapidly to cast aside any remaining cold with the aid of the bright sun. The average high temperatures are in the beautiful 73°F (22.8°C) to 78°F (25.6°C) range, while the average low temperatures are around a comfortable 55°F (12.8°C) to 58°F (14.4°C). Weather in June »

Weather in July

July is usually the hottest month of the year in Rhode Island with the sun at the height of its power. The daylight lasts for more than 15 hours, and it is standard for sunshine to last till 9 p.m. There is rarely a better time to visit the beach with the sun shining brightly in the sky. Weather in July »

Weather in August

August is the last stop of the summer season in Rhode Island with warm to hot conditions. The days are long, and the weather is humid in the coastal region. Day high temperatures are in the 78°F (25.6°C) to 82°F (27.8°C), while nights are comfortable in the 59°F (15°C) to 64°F (17.8°C). Weather in August »

Weather in September

September is the arrival of the beautiful fall season in Rhode Island with mild temperatures and a dash of colors. The landscape becomes colorful with the changing leaves, especially in the forested regions. The temperatures are in the mild 52°F (11.1°C) to warm 75°F (23.9°C) range and seldom cross the 85°F (29.4°C) mark. Weather in September »

Weather in October

October lies in the middle of the fall season in Rhode Island with the foliage colors at their peak. Brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and gold cover the landscape. The atmosphere is beautiful with the breezy wind, and the sun breaks the cloud cover now and then. Weather in October »

Weather in November

November signals the transition from the mild autumn weather to bring cold conditions in Rhode Island. The daylight decreases rapidly as the sunshine remains moderate at best. The average temperatures are in the mild 41°F (5°C) to 55°F (12.8°C) range with a slight increase in rainfall. Weather in November »

Weather in December

December starts the cold winter season in Rhode Island with gloomy skies and moderate precipitation. The 3" (76mm) to 5" (127mm) of rainfall is occasionally in the form of icy precipitation that makes the roads slippery. The snowfall is in the moderate range of 7" (178mm) to 13" (330mm), but the cold makes sure that the landscape remains frozen during the winter. The average high temperatures are in the 39°F (3.9°C) to 45°F (7.2°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the freezing zone of 25°F (-3.9°C) to 30°F (-1.1°C). Weather in December »


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