Utah has a mainly dry, semi-arid (BSh, BSk) and desert climate (BWh, BWk). Summers are long and extremely hot, while winters are short and cold. Utah lies in the western part of the United States and is one of the Four Corners States as well as the Mountain States. Arizona in the south, Nevada in the west, Idaho in the north, Wyoming in the northeast, and Colorado in the east share borders with the state, which also touches New Mexico in the southeast. The Gulf of California is an important factor that influences the climate.
Utah, the Beehive State, has an average elevation of 1860 meters with the highest point on Kings Peak at 4,120.3 meters and the lowest at 664.4 meters at Beaver Dam Wash. The diverse topography ranges from deserts to flourishing pine forests in the mountains. The Colorado Plateau, the Rocky Mountains, and the Great Basin regions join in Utah. Western Utah is an arid desert with small mountain ranges and rugged terrain as an anomaly in the landscape. The southern landscape is scenic with the Colorado River, and its tributaries wind through the sandstone to create mesmerizing canyons, arches, mesas, buttes, and gullies. Eastern Utah has high elevation basins and plateaus.
Summers in Utah are scorching, with the average high temperatures in the range of 85°F (29.4°C) to 100°F (37.8°C) at the peak of July. The dryness results in low humidity and significant temperature variations keep the nights cool in the summer, especially in the high mountains. January high temperatures are between 30°F (-1.1°C) to 55°F (12.8°C) at the peak of the winter season. However, temperatures drop below 0°F (-17.8°C) in the majority of the state during the cold season. The northern and eastern mountain ranges protect Utah from major Arctic blasts even though some manage to spill over. Temperature inversions last for extended periods during the winters in the lowlands and lead to thick haze and fog. Spring and autumn have the most comfortable conditions in the year.
The average annual precipitation in Utah ranges from 5" (127mm) in the Great Salt Lake Desert to 12" (304.8mm) in the lowlands and 15" (381mm) in the Wasatch Front. Snowfall is an ample 60" (1524mm) in Salt Lake City and substantial in much of the state except the far southern valleys. Lake-effect snow increases snowfall in the south and east parts of the Great Salt Lake. The Wasatch Range receives up to 500" (12700mm) in some of its portions due to lake-effect snow. The average annual sunshine in Utah is an abundant 3029 hours. Although the freeze-free window is large, the desert lands are mostly unsuitable for agriculture.
Saint George recorded the highest ever temperature of 118°F (47.8°C) on July 4, 2007, in Utah, while Peter Sinks recorded the coldest temperature of -69°F (-56.1°C) on February 1, 1985.
The best time to visit Utah
The best time to visit Utah is during the spring from March to May and autumn from September to November. The shoulder seasons are colder than the severely hot weather of summer but warmer than the cold winter. Spring brings unexpected precipitation in some parts of the state. The fall is a colorful period in the high mountains of Utah when the landscape attains scenic beauty. The summer heat is oppressive, and the season is prone to thunderstorms. October has pleasant weather with comfortable days and nights, but diurnal temperature variations exist throughout the year.
The worst time to visit Utah
The worst time to visit Utah is in the winter from December to February, with severely cold nights and extreme temperature variations. Frequent snowfall leads to substantial accumulation in the highlands, with 1 to 3 feet of snow depth being standard. Arctic air escapes through the mountain passes to bring sub-zero temperatures in the state. High-speed winds often exacerbate the effect of the cold. The light, fluffy, and deep powdery snow makes skiing popular in Utah in the winter season. Many visitors vie for experiencing 'The Greatest Snow on Earth' on the mountain slopes of Utah.
Utah is vulnerable to wildfires, thunderstorms, and tornadoes in late spring and summer. Pacific storms make their way into Utah between October and May. Thunderstorms occur for an average of 40 days in the year. Severe wildfires occur in the summer due to the dry and hot weather. Lightning strikes spark summer wildfires, while thunderstorms cause flash floods due to the inability of vegetation to hold even a moderate amount of water. An average of two tornadoes strike Utah over the year but rarely cause fatalities to human life. Utah is prone to low-intensity earthquakes below 3.5 on the Richter scale.
Weather in January
January is usually the coldest month of the year in Utah, with the temperatures falling below 0°F (-17.8°C) in the north and eastern parts. The average low temperatures are in the frigid 3°F (-16.1°C) to 31°F (-0.6°C) zone, while the average high temperatures are in the cold 27°F (-2.8°C) to 54°F (12.2°C) range. Salt Lake City, the capital in north-central Utah averages between a cold 22°F (-5.6°C) to 37°F (2.8°C), while Roosevelt in the northeastern portion is in the icy 3°F (-16.1°C) to 31°F (-0.6°C) range. Snowfall ranges from a moderate 5" (127mm) in all regions except the north where it registers 15" (381mm). The arid lands see a rapid drop in temperatures after sunset even though the days have adequate sunshine. Rainfall is scarce, and microclimates vary between alpine to cold desert conditions. Snowshoeing and tubing are the easiest ways for families to enjoy the snow. Keep warm in layers of clothing while moving outdoors. January is an off-season for tourism, but a great time for snow lovers and skiers.
Weather in February
February is chilly in the winter of Utah as the state remains in the grip of the cold weather. Day temperatures are in the cold range of 32°F (0°C) to 59°F (15°C) and rarely go past 65°F (18.3°C). Nights are bitter in the zone of 10°F (-12.2°C) to 28°F (-2.2°C), with occasional dips below 0°F (-17.8°C) in many areas. The mountains have alpine conditions and gather loads of fluffy snow. The snowfall ranges between 4" (101.6mm) to 12" (304.8mm) statewide. The days are mild, with a low level of humidity and dry atmosphere. Snowstorms occasionally occur and stall ordinary life. Drive carefully as the icy roads are hazardous in the winter. Cross country skiing and snowmobiling are popular among adventure seekers. Hot chocolate is a great way to regain energy levels after a day in the snow. Soaking in a hot spring is a delightful remedy to the cold season. Snow lovers from distant parts of the country travel to Utah to experience the unique powdery snow on the mountain slopes in February.
Weather in March
March begins with cold weather at the start of the spring season in Utah. Day high temperatures average in the warm 37°F (2.8°C) to 62°F (16.7°C) range, while the nights are cold with average low temperatures in the 16°F (-8.9°C) to 36°F (2.2°C). Roosevelt in the northeast averages between 23°F (-5°C) to 56°F (13.3°C), while Logan in the north-central region is between 29°F (-1.7°C) to 48°F (8.9°C). Early spring is prone to cold fronts, and the arid land has sizeable diurnal temperature differences. A moderate amount of rain up to 3" (76.2mm) falls in March, and the rest takes the form of snow. A glorious day of sunshine with 75°F (23.9°C) temperature often ends up in a freezing night in the spring season. Harsh winters often leave potholes on roads, so be extra careful while driving in early spring. The resident population awakens from hibernation and is ready to bask in the beautiful sunshine. Warm coats or at least sweaters are necessary for early spring in March in Utah.
Weather in April
April sees a rise in temperatures with the advance of the spring season in Utah. The average high temperatures are in the warm 43°F (6.1°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range, while nights tend to be cold between 22°F (-5.6°C) to 49°F (9.4°C) statewide. April sees measurable snow in the range of 1" (25.4mm) to 2" (50.8mm) in the state and is most likely the last month of significant snowfall. Spring makes the land free of snow, but the smell of wildflowers is mostly evident in the alpine zone of the mountains. The sunlight lasts for extended periods as sunny days return to the state. Skiing generally lasts till mid-April on the mountain slopes but can extend till the end of spring in an unusually snowy year. Do not be in a hurry to pack warm clothes in closets as nights can be surprisingly chilly. Tulip festivals are ideal during the spring for people who wish to see a lot of blooming flora in April in Utah.
Weather in May
May has long and sunny days amid clear skies in the spring season of Utah. The average high temperatures are in the warm 52°F (11.1°C) to 86°F (30°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the mild zone of 30°F (-1.1°C) to 59°F (15°C). The days receive plenty of sunshine as crowds fight in the canyons of the state. It is not often that Utah weather remains moderate during both day and night. Snowfall is absent except for the high mountains, and the land is freeze-free. River rafting and canoeing are popular among adventure seekers in the deep gorges of the Colorado River. Late spring is an ideal time to visit the national parks such as the Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion, with plenty of wildlife for company. Trees and flowers bloom, but the smell is not always pleasant, and allergies are a concern. Although the conditions seem warm, it is a prudent idea to carry a sweater in spring. May is one of the best times of the year to visit Utah.
Weather in June
June begins the hot summer season in Utah, with the sun rays gradually rising in intensity. The wilderness and natural beauty of the state draw tourists from distant lands. The average high temperatures are between 63°F (17.2°C) to 96°F (35.6°C), while the average low temperatures are in the 38°F (3.3°C) to 67°F (19.4°C) zone. Green River in the south registers comfortably warm average temperatures in the 55°F (12.8°C) to 93°F (33.9°C) zone. Humidity levels are low, particularly in the arid west, and the skies remain clear during the night. Moderate rain to the tune of 1 to 2" (50.8mm) accumulates in June. Thunderstorms are frequent in the afternoon, and tornadoes make an unexpected visit to Utah. A cloudburst can bring heavy rain in the span of a few hours and result in flash floods due to the inability of the soil and vegetation to hold any water. June sees the tourist season at its peak in Utah, with the temperatures still bearable during the days and comfortable in the nights.
Weather in July
July is usually the hottest month of the year in Utah, with blistering sunshine that scorches the land. The average high temperatures are in the hot 72°F (22.2°C) to 101°F (38.3°C) range, and many places remain over 100°F (37.8°C) for extended periods. Summer nights are surprisingly comfortable with average temperatures in the 46°F (7.8°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) zone. Tourist footfall is on a high in Zion National Park in the west, even though the temperatures are in the hot 69°F (20.6°C) to 101°F (38.3°C) range. Camping grounds and mountain lodges scarcely remain vacant as camping, fishing, biking, and trailing gain momentum. Mountains and canyons are cooler by up to 20°F (-6.7°C) than the surrounding lands. Rainfall is scarce, and the atmosphere is dry, with the average humidity below 50%. Brilliant sunshine makes light summer clothing with full sleeves and broad-brimmed hats the best way to combat the sun. Mornings are the best periods for outdoor trips during the day. Evenings have plenty of daylight and lots of fun activities in Utah in July.
Weather in August
August is a hot summer month in Utah, with the sun working overtime over the land. The average high temperatures are in the hot 70°F (21.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C) range, while nights register between a moderate 45°F (7.2°C) to 73°F (22.8°C). Rain is negligible as the summer retains a dry atmosphere with clear skies. The plains, as well as arid lands, are exceedingly hot, but the canyons, foothills and high mountain slopes experience different microclimates with cool nights. Camping under the open skies is marvelous for gazing millions of stars in the vast open sky. Float down the Provo River when the heat becomes unbearable for extended periods. Consider a backpacking trip to one of the many alpine lakes in the state for a rousing adventure. Light summer clothing is ideal in August, with a light sweater for the night. The temperatures drop steadily with each passing that brings the end of the long summer. Keep an eye on wildfires and thunderstorms in the dry season in August in Utah.
Weather in September
September sees a drop in the heat index in Utah, with the passage of the long summer by the middle of the month. The scorching sun, and usually brown landscape give way to moderate sunshine and colorful scenery. Snow-capped peaks in the background add to the natural beauty. The average high temperatures in early fall are in the warm 61°F (16.1°C) to hot 92°F (33.3°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the cold 37°F (2.8°C) to mild 63°F (17.2°C) range. Saint George in the west registers temperatures in the 63°F (17.2°C) to 92°F (33.3°C) range. Rainfall is only to the tune of 1" (25.4mm) to 2" (50.8mm) statewide. Forests, national, and state parks offer a diverse range of colors due to different microclimates. Mountain trails and lakeshores offer a fantastic array of colors. Autumn nights are cold in the north and east and mild in the south. Expect temperatures to drop further with the progress of the season. September is the beginning of the pleasant fall weather in Utah.
Weather in October
October lies in the middle of the fall season in Utah, with strikingly variable temperatures between day and night at various elevations. The average high temperatures tend to be comfortable in the 49°F (9.4°C) to 78°F (25.6°C) range, but the nights are cold in the 27°F (-2.8°C) to 50°F (10°C) range. The arid west experiences substantial diurnal temperature differences, with warm days ending in freezing nights. Cedar City in the west averages in the cold 34°F (1.1°C) to warm 66°F (18.9°C) range, while Moab in the south is between a mild 41°F (5°C) to warm 73°F (22.8°C). While Utah does not inspire the awe of the brilliant fall season in New England, the cascade of colors constitutes brilliant hues shed by canyon maple, aspen, Douglas hawthorn, spruce, oak, and many more trees. October brings the first snowflakes of the season in the mountains, and the atmosphere gradually turns cold. Driving through scenic byways is the best way to explore the peak fall foliage. Wear warm clothes, at least a sweater, during October evenings in Utah.
Weather in November
November brings cold weather to Utah as the autumn season begins to wind up. The average high temperatures are in the range of 36°F (2.2°C) to 64°F (17.8°C), while the average low temperatures drop well below freezing in the 16°F (-8.9°C) to 37°F (2.8°C) range. The mountain ranges gather substantial snow above 20" (508mm), while the rest of the state records healthy numbers between 3" (76.2mm) to 8" (203.2mm). Cold fronts make their way through the mountain passes and scourge the land. Pacific storms occasionally invade the state with the beginning of the cold season. The daylight is still strong, and the sunshine is adequate for outdoor activities. The foliage is past its peak, and leaves begin to fall by the second half of November. Evenings are chilly, and the snowfall occurs even in the valleys. Ski resorts open post-Halloween in much of the state. It is time to bring out warm clothes out of the closets. Tourist numbers dwindle in November in Utah as the cold takes its toll.
Weather in December
December brings the cold winter season to Utah, with a significant amount of snowfall. The average high temperatures are in the mild 30°F (-1.1°C) to 53°F (11.7°C) zone, and the average low temperatures are in the frigid 10°F (-12.2°C) to 30°F (-1.1°C) range. Richfield in the west is between an icy 16°F (-8.9°C) to mild 41°F (5°C), while Provo in the north-central region registers temperatures between a cold 24°F (-4.4°C) to mild 40°F (4.4°C). Rain is scarce, but snowfall ranges from 5" (127mm) in much of the state to 15" (381mm) in the north. The mountains in the north and east restrict the entry of arctic air to no small degree. Cold air masses occasionally escape through the mountain passes and descend in the lowlands. Extremely cold temperatures are a regular occurrence in the cold desert lands. Winter is the time of powdery snow that attracts snow lovers from all over the country. Skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are popular activities in the mountains. December is generally a month to avoid a visit to Utah.