The climate of Arizona
has a primarily semi-arid to arid climate (Köppen climate classification BS, BW) at lower elevations, with pockets of continental (Köppen Dfb) and alpine (Köppen Dfc) types in the northern highlands. It is one of the Mountain states, which lies in the southwestern region of the United States. California and Nevada in the west, Utah in the north, Colorado in the northeast, New Mexico in the east, and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California in the south share borders with the state. The southern and western parts of Arizona are mostly arid lands, while the high altitudes in the north and east have alpine climates.
Arizona, the Grand Canyon State, has an average elevation of 1250 meters above sea level. Humphreys Peak has the highest elevation of 3852 meters in the state, while the Colorado River on the Sonoran border has the lowest elevation of 22 meters. Vast deserts, rosy mesas, high plateaus, numerous canyons and valleys, forests, and snow-capped peaks constitute the varied topography. The northeast has high plateau regions, while forests of Douglas fir, spruce, and pine are abundant in the north. A mountainous belt extends from the southeast to the northwest, with maximum elevations between 2727 and 3636 meters. The southwest consists of desert valleys and low mountain ranges. Arizona forms the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Summers are exceptionally hot and dry in Arizona, with temperatures usually in the 90°F (32.2°C) to 120°F (48.9°C) zone. The southern desert occasionally registers temperatures above 125°F (51.7°C), while the average high temperatures reach a peak of 97°F (36.1°C) in July
. Localized climate conditions exist due to the large area and variations in elevation in the state. The variations between day and night can range from 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) in the summer. Winter nights occasionally drop below freezing even when the average highs of the day touch 70°F (21.1°C). Although the days are warm in the cold season, cold air masses may push the temperatures below 0°F (-17.8°C) in the northwest. Spring and autumn have mild weather and generally comfortable conditions.
Arizona receives an average of 13" (330mm) of scanty rainfall in the year, with a peak during late summer. The mountainous region receives above 20" (508mm), while the southern desert sees extended periods of little to no precipitation. Arizona receives an average of 3500 hours of annual sunshine. Yuma has the highest number of sunny days and Flagstaff, the lowest among major cities. Snow accumulation reaches up to 100" (2540mm) in the high mountains of the north. The southern region barely receives snowfall. The average relative humidity remains low in the 30% to 50% range over the year. The growing season length varies from less than three freeze-free months in the northwestern mountains to several years without a freeze in the lower valleys.
Lake Havasu City recorded the highest temperature of 128°F (53.3°C) on June
29, 1994, in Arizona, while Hawley Lake recorded the coldest temperature of -40°F (-40°C) on January
The best time to visit Arizona
The best time to visit Arizona
is in the autumn season from September
when the temperatures scale down from the peak of summer. Day highs are in the comfortable 65°F (18.3°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range, and the nights fare even better. The humidity is low, and the mostly clear skies offer fantastic opportunities for stargazing. The fall season has fewer incidences of thunderstorms and tornadoes and is the time of festivals. Summer is scorching in Arizona, and temperatures often cross 110°F (43.3°C). Comparatively, fall sees refreshing conditions across the state.
The worst time to visit Arizona
The worst time to visit Arizona
is during the harsh summer from June
when the temperatures reach record highs of the year. Heatwaves often sweep the southern regions from the Sonoran desert. The difference between day and night temperatures is extreme and causes discomfort to people foreign to the conditions. Additionally, storms, including tornadoes, occur mostly in the summer, and there is a threat of lightning strikes and flash floods. Winter days are mild, with extreme temperature variations between day and night. Snowfall can throw a spanner in vacation plans.
is vulnerable to thunderstorms, floods, and tornadoes in spring and summer, and snowstorms in the winter. Thunderstorms are frequent in July
and cause floods that inflict considerable local damage. High winds can reach speeds of 100mph (160.9km/h) during severe storms. Storms result in flash floods as the sparse vegetation, and uneven terrain has limited ability to hold water. Dry arroyos spill over the banks to halt traffic for many hours. The thawing of snow in the spring season and occasionally heavy rainfall floods rivers. Tornadoes are sporadic from May
to August and average four in a year.
Weather in January
is the coldest month of the year in Arizona
, with wide variations in temperatures across the state. Nights are below freezing in the northern and central parts but are mild in the south and west. Flagstaff in the north receives more than 60" (1524mm) of snow and is a popular skiing destination, while Williams and Grand Canyon Village also account for sizeable snowfall. Phoenix, the capital, rarely receives snow or ice and has comfortable temperatures between 46°F (7.8°C) to 69°F (20.6°C). Weather in January »
Weather in February
lies in the short winter season of Arizona
, with delightful day temperatures between 55°F (12.8°C) to 73°F (22.8°C). Freezing nights are prominent in the northern hilly areas, which also account for the maximum portion of the snowfall in the state. Weather in February »
Weather in March
welcomes the spring season to Arizona
with warm days and ample sunshine. The landscape remains mostly dry due to the shortage of rainfall. Temperatures range widely from 50°F (10°C) in the north to 80°F (26.7°C) in the west during the day. Weather in March »
Weather in April
is a beautiful spring month in Arizona
with brilliant sunshine and clear skies. The snow melts rapidly on the mountain slopes with at least 23 sunny days in the month. Snowfall is absent except in the alpine zone of the high mountains. Weather in April »
Weather in May
is sunny in Arizona
with long daylight hours and mild, comfortable nights. The average high temperatures reach up to 98°F (36.7°C) in the west in places like Bulkhead City, Parker, and Yuma. Phoenix records average temperatures between 69°F (20.6°C) to 95°F (35°C), while Tucson in the south is between 64°F (17.8°C) to 91°F (32.8°C). Weather in May »
Weather in June
begins the hot summer season in Arizona
, with the longest days of the year amid bright sunshine. The average high temperatures are in the hot zone of 81°F (27.2°C) to 108°F (42.2°C), while the average low temperatures are way down in the 42°F (5.6°C) to 77°F (25°C) range. Weather in June »
Weather in July
is generally the peak of the summer in Arizona
, with the average high temperatures in the astonishingly high range of 81°F (27.2°C) to 112°F (44.4°C). Nights vary from a cool 51°F (10.6°C) in the Grand Canyon Village in the north to warm 85°F (29.4°C) in Lake Havasu City in the west. Precipitation reaches up to 4" (102mm) in Bisbee, Green Valley, and Coronado National Monument in the south, with frequent thunderstorms that bring the majority of the rainfall. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is hot in the summer season of Arizona
, with average high temperatures in the 78°F (25.6°C) to 110°F (43.3°C). Flagstaff in the north averages between 50°F (10°C) to 78°F (25.6°C), while Sedona in the center is between 66°F (18.9°C) to 94°F (34.4°C). Weather in August »
Weather in September
welcomes the beautiful autumn season with comfortable weather in Arizona
. The average high temperatures are in the warm range of 73°F (22.8°C) to 100°F (37.8°C), while the nights are temperate in the average low temperature zone of 42°F (5.6°C) to 76°F (24.4°C). Moisture from the Gulf of California occasionally reaches the interior of Arizona to bring moderate rainfall in the range of 1" (25mm) to 2" (51mm) in the north and the south. Weather in September »
Weather in October
is one of the best times to visit Arizona
, with pleasant temperatures and beautiful colors in the fall season. The daily sunshine lasts for 9 to 10 hours but is moderately intense compared to the peak of summer. The average high temperatures are in the comfortable 62°F (16.7°C) to 90°F (32.2°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the wide range of 32°F (0°C) to 62°F (16.7°C). Weather in October »
Weather in November
ends the mild autumn season in Arizona
, with temperatures in the average range of 32°F (0°C) to 90°F (32.2°C). Canyon de Chelly, Page, and Pipe Springs Monument in the north average between 38°F (3.3°C) to 72°F (22.2°C), while Sierra Vista, Tombstone, and Tucson in the south register between 51°F (10.6°C) to 84°F (28.9°C). Rainfall is scanty throughout the state and rarely exceeds 1" (25mm) to 1.5" (38mm). Weather in November »
Weather in December
begins the winter season in Arizona
with warm days and cold nights. The skies are mostly clear, with little precipitation in the majority of the state. Temperature differences are extreme between day and night due to the arid nature of the land. Weather in December »