The climate of Massachusetts
has a mainly humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Southeastern coastal areas show shades of a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) with relatively mild winters. The Atlantic Ocean stretches from the northeast to the southeast, while Rhode Island and Connecticut in the south, New York in the west, Vermont and New Hampshire in the north form the borders of the state. Massachusetts lies in the New England region of the northeastern United States. The distance from the relatively mild ocean waters, elevation, and terrain influence the climate in the different parts of the state.
Massachusetts, the Bay State, lies at an average elevation of 150 meters, with Mount Greylock as the highest peak at 1064 meters. The topography consists of mountains in the west and rolling hills, flatlands with marshes, lakes, and ponds along the coastal plains and the central region. Three climatic divisions prominently split the state. The Western division consists of low mountains of the Berkshire Hills and the Taconic Range. The Coastal division consists of a 10 to 20 miles wide strip along the Atlantic Coast. The Central division consists of flatlands and mountains, such as the southern White Mountains of the Monadnock region. Including the southern and eastern shores of the Cape Cod Bay, the coastline is 200 miles long.
Massachusetts lies in the belt of prevailing westerlies, with various air masses interacting with each other regularly. Temperature ranges vary significantly, daily and annually, and even in the same season over the years. Summers have comfortable temperatures between 70°F (21.1°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) at the peak of July
. Five to fifteen hot days, with temperatures more than 90°F (32.2°C), are typical, but the nights remain mild. Cape Cod and offshore islands are generally cooler than the interior. Winter temperatures vary significantly across regions, with five to fifteen days of subzero temperatures in the western mountains. Spring is wet and transitions from cold to warm with the advance of the season. Autumn is temperate, but the latter part of the season often encounters frost and ice.
The average annual rainfall in Massachusetts ranges from 40" (1016mm) along the coast to 50" (1270mm) in the western division. The distribution of rainfall is even throughout the year, and there are no dry or wet periods. Thunderstorms bring local precipitation in the summer, while winter storms bring icy rain and snow. Snowfall is heavy in the winter and ranges from 25" (635mm) over Cape Cod to 80" (2032mm) in the west. At least one snowstorm in the winter registers greater than 5" (127mm) of snowfall. Two hundred days in the year are sunny to partly sunny, with a cloud cover of less than 80%. Frost is a regular occurrence in the winter and lasts from the latter part of the fall to early spring in many places. Dense fog is common over the Cape Cod Bay and offshore islands.
New Bedford and Chester recorded Massachusetts’s highest temperature of 107°F (41.7°C) on August
2, 1975, while Chester also holds the record of the lowest temperature of -35°F (-37.2°C) on January
The best time to visit Massachusetts
The best time to visit Massachusetts
is from May
in late spring to mid-autumn in October
. Temperatures are warm by mid-May, with a marked decrease in storm activities. Summers are warm and beautiful on the seaside as well as the mountains. Cruise vacations are popular at the peak of the summer and include attractive destinations like Cape Ann, Boston, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. Numerous state parks, inland waterways, and coastal beaches attract the maximum number of tourists during the pleasant summer weather. Autumn is colorful and draws crowds from all over the United States.
The worst time to visit Massachusetts
The worst time to visit Massachusetts
is from November
, when the weather is severely cold. Cold fronts are frequent, and the first of the snowstorms usually occur by November. The resulting accumulation of snow taxes the snow plows and the state to the hilt. Mountain trails and state parks close for the winter as chilly winds and massive snow act as significant barriers. Roads are slippery and icy and even shut down in case of massive snow accumulation. Winter days are short, and the skies are often gloomy in the absence of intense sunshine. Winter is a treat for snow lovers.
is prone to wildfires, thunderstorms, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and snowstorms. Thunderstorms are frequent in the spring and summer, while tropical storms are occasional. Flooding occasionally occurs in the spring season due to heavy rainfall and melting of the deep snow cover. The central and western divisions frequently record 100" (2540mm) of snowfall during the winter. Boston recorded its snowiest winter in 1997-98, with 144" (3658mm) of snow. Nor'easters bring a heavy amount of snow and precipitation in the winter.
The Blizzard of February
6-7, 1978 deposited 27.1" (688mm) in Boston, while Milton recorded the heaviest 24-hour snowfall of 28.2" (716mm) on February 24, 1969, in another snowstorm.
Weather in January
is usually the coldest month of the year in Massachusetts
as the temperatures drop to the trough of the year. The average low temperatures are in the frigid 10°F (-12.2°C) to 24°F (-4.4°C), as several days register subzero readings. Weather in January »
Weather in February
sees dark skies in Massachusetts
, with no respite from the severe cold. The snowfall is substantial, with Worthington in the central region recording up to 18" (457mm). The average temperatures are in the cold 12°F (-11.1°C) to 40°F (4.4°C) zone, as many places experience freezing days and nights. Weather in February »
Weather in March
is cold in Massachusetts
with the signs of spring by the second half of the month. Day temperatures warm up to register in the 40°F (4.4°C) to 48°F (8.9°C), while the nights are below freezing between 21°F (-6.1°C) to 31°F (-0.6°C). March is rainy to the tune of 4" (102mm) to 6" (152mm), with wetter conditions in the southeast. Weather in March »
Weather in April
is wet in Massachusetts
as the advance of the spring seasons brings warm days and cold nights. The average high temperatures are between a warm 51°F (10.6°C) to 59°F (15°C), while the nights are cold in the 32°F (0°C) to 41°F (5°C) zone. Weather in April »
Weather in May
is warm and beautiful in Massachusetts
, with the spring season at its peak. The missing sun is back in the skies, and the long hours of daylight spread joy over the landscape. The peak of the spring season brings back the migratory birds with the promise of abundant freshwater in ponds, lakes, and rivers. Weather in May »
Weather in June
begins the delectable summer season in Massachusetts
with warm conditions amid bright sunshine. Day temperatures cross 85°F (29.4°C) in the Cape regularly as blue skies attract visitors from everywhere. Sunny days draw crowds in the state parks and zoos, as families enjoy summer vacations in the fair weather. The mild ocean water temperatures offer plenty from swimming to surfing and snorkeling, or just lying lazily on the beach under the fabulous sun. Weather in June »
Weather in July
is typically the hottest month of the year in Massachusetts
, with the average high temperatures in the 75°F (23.9°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) range. Temperatures touch 95°F (35°C) in places like Amherst and Lowell in the central region, while the Atlantic Ocean keeps the conditions relatively cooler in Hyannis, Cape Cod, and Nantucket. The clocks are set faster by an hour from early spring to late fall to take advantage of the increased sunshine that records 301 hours. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is warm to hot in the summer of Massachusetts
with many sunny days. The average high temperatures are in the 73°F (22.8°C) to 81°F (27.2°C), but the heat does not cross to the scorching threshold of scorching. Cummington Hill in the west averages between 56°F (13.3°C) to 76°F (24.4°C), while Plymouth in the east is between 60°F (15.6°C) to 81°F (27.2°C). The long, hot days end in short, temperate nights. Weather in August »
Weather in September
brings the pleasant autumn season to Massachusetts
, with frequent, gentle breezes during the evening. The days are warm, with bright sunshine and light rainfall in the early fall season. The sunshine lasts for a daily 8 hours as the leaves start to change colors by mid-September. Weather in September »
Weather in October
reaches the zenith of colors, with the fall foliage at its peak in Massachusetts
. The 7 hours of daily sunshine keeps the days warm, but the evenings cool rapidly. The fall foliage is at its peak with brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple. Weather in October »
Weather in November
lies at the end of the autumn season in Massachusetts
and brings cold temperatures along with the falling leaves. The skies are dark as the daily sunlight lasts only for 4 hours. Brockton, Haverhill, Hingham, and Marblehead in the east average between 29°F (-1.7°C) to 53°F (11.7°C), while the western part of the state is between 27°F (-2.8°C) to 49°F (9.4°C). The light rainfall brings the first flurries of snow to the region. Weather in November »
Weather in December
begins the cold winter season in Massachusetts
with gloomy skies and abundant snow. The average high temperatures are in the 33°F (0.6°C) to 45°F (7.2°C) range, while the average low temperatures lie in the 17°F (-8.3°C) to 31°F (-0.6°C) zone. Western Massachusetts receives heavy snowfall, and the trend continues in the central region, with the least amount of snow in the coastal belt. Weather in December »