Nevada climate is mainly of arid and semi-arid types (Köppen climate classification BWh/BWk, BSh/ BSk), with hot summers and cold winters. Nevada lies in the Western United States and is the driest state in the union. California in the west, Oregon in the northwest, Idaho in the northeast, Utah in the east, and Arizona in the southeast, share borders with the state. The Pacific Ocean and the desert regions in the south influence the dry climate of the state.
Nevada, the Silver State, is mostly arid, with an average elevation of 1608 meters and highest of 4401 meters at Boundary Peak. The geography consists of desert lands and semi-arid regions of the Great Basin. The Mojave Desert is in the south, while the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe lie in on the western boundary. The southern portion has flat terrain and receives less rain. Mountain ranges above the desert plains consist of lush forests. The Snake River's tributaries drain the north, while the Colorado River drains the southern portion of the state. The Sierra Nevada is home to several rivers, including the Carson, Truckee, and Walker rivers. The vegetation is of alpine and sub-alpine types in the high mountains.
Summers are severely hot and dry in Nevada, with the difference between day and night temperatures, often exceeding 40°F (4.4°C). Day highs frequently stay above the 100°F (37.8°C) mark from June to September and even top 120°F (48.9°C). Winters are long and cold in the north but short and mild in the south. Daytime highs average a comfortable 57°F (13.9°C) in Las Vegas at the peak of winter, while the nights are above freezing at 38°F (3.3°C). Spring is warm, while the autumn has pleasant conditions. Winter minimum temperatures register in the 15°F (-9.4°C) to 20°F (-6.7°C) range in the plains, and temperatures below 0°F (-17.8°C) seldom last for more than a few days.
The annual rainfall is scarce and hardly averages 7" (177.8mm) in Nevada, with the majority of the precipitation on the leeward side of the Sierra Nevada. The average precipitation ranges from 5" (127mm) in the south to 12" (304.8mm) in the north. Western and south-central portions record maximum precipitation in the winter, central, and northeast in the spring and eastern during the summer. Snowfall is heavy between 20" (508mm) in the central and 30" (762mm) in the northern regions, while the south receives occasional light outbursts. Humidity rarely exceeds 60% throughout the year. The freeze-free season ranges from 70 days in the extreme north to 225 days in the south. Nevada receives ample sunshine of 3300 hours over the year.
Laughlin recorded the highest ever temperature of 125°F (51.7°C) on June 29, 1994, in Nevada, while San Jacinto recorded the coldest temperature of -52°F (-46.7°C) in the winter of 1972.
The best time to visit Nevada
The best time to visit Nevada is in the shoulder seasons from March to May and September to November. The spring is cooler than the summer, which tends to be severely hot and uncomfortable in much of the state. The fall season brings color to the landscape and is calmer than the spring and summer. Thunderstorms are frequent in late spring and summer, while mid-summer to early fall experiences tornadoes. The diurnal temperature range is the shortest during April and October, which makes the conditions comfortable.
The worst time to visit Nevada
The worst time to visit Nevada is during the winter as the state experiences cold weather with occasional extreme temperatures. Although extended periods of frigid weather are rare due to high mountain ranges in the north and east, arctic masses spill through them to produce cold waves. Low temperatures drop below freezing in many parts, and sometimes even below 0°F (-17.8°C). The scanty rainfall is responsible for creating cold deserts in much of Nevada. The north and central regions are susceptible to heavy snowfall, particularly in the high mountains. Snowfall over 45" (1143mm) is possible in twenty-four hours, and amounts over 330" (8382mm) in the winter are not rare. However, the cold season is to the liking of snow lovers who find joy in sports like skiing and hunting.
Nevada is vulnerable to thunderstorms, droughts, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and tornadoes in late spring and summer. The plains witness flooding in spring and summer due to the melting of snow and rain from thunderstorms, with the Nevada Floods of 2013 as a notable example. Cloudbursts may bring more rain in a few hours than the entire season. The dry conditions and scanty rainfall are responsible for severe wildfires at the peak of the summer in much of the state. Nevada also experiences frequent earthquakes of low intensity below 3.5 on the Richter scale. Wind speeds are high across the vast plains with the lack of high mountain ranges to provide natural barriers. Pacific storms occasionally bring heavy snow in the winter.
Weather in January
January is the snowiest month of the year in Nevada with 3" (76.2mm) to 12" (304.8mm) of snow. The northern and central regions contribute most of the snowfall, while the south hardly sees any. The average high temperatures are between 36°F (2.2°C) to 65°F (18.3°C), while the average low temperatures are in the 9°F (-12.8°C) to 43°F (6.1°C) range. Carson City, the capital in the Reno area averages between 22°F (-5.6°C) to 45°F (7.2°C), Spring Valley State Park in central Nevada is cold between 9°F (-12.8°C) to 43°F (6.1°C). The diurnal temperature difference is more than 30°F (-1.1°C) during most of the month. Most of the scarce precipitation occurs in the western and southern portions of the state. The 8 hours of sunshine keeps the days warm, but conditions become rapidly chilly after sunset. Skiing enthusiasts find joy in the mountains where the snow accumulates in large quantities. All-wheel drives are preferable on slushy roads and parking areas to stop vehicles from doing donuts. Overall, January is an off-season for tourism in Nevada.
Weather in February
February is chilly in the winter season in Nevada with a moderate amount of snowfall. Great Basin National Park in central Nevada receives substantial snowfall over 23" (584.2mm). Day temperatures are between 41°F (5°C) to 69°F (20.6°C), but nights are bitterly cold in the 12°F (-11.1°C) to 46°F (7.8°C) zone. The mountains of Sierra Nevada gather loads of snow and are a sight to watch in the winter. Sunny days occasionally occur in February, but the temperatures rescind quickly after sunset. Wind speeds are high in the plains due to a lack of natural barriers. Winter nights have clear skies that are ideal for stargazing. Snowshoeing, tubing, and ice-skating are popular besides skiing in cold conditions. Daylight hours are sufficient to enjoy the adventures on the white landscape, although the Sierra Nevada has a vibrant nightlife. Pack warm coats even though the days seem to be mild to warm. February is a month for budget travelers to take advantage of discounted rates in Nevada.
Weather in March
March has cold nights in Nevada at the beginning of the spring season. Day highs are usually in the 48°F (8.9°C) to 77°F (25°C) range, while nightly lows are between 20°F (-6.7°C) to 50°F (10°C). Early spring often sees cold temperatures in the range of 20°F (-6.7°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) in Mountain City in the north. Hawthorne, in the Reno area, begins to experience warmth by the second half of March with temperatures in 34°F (1.1°C) to 61°F (16.1°C) range. Las Vegas has comfortable conditions in the spring season. The central and northern regions receive between 5" (127mm) to 7" (177.8mm) of snow, but the precipitation is negligible. The daily sunshine lasts for at least 8 hours and rapidly melts the snow. March begins the spring turkey hunting season in Nevada. The end of the cold season is the beginning of an increase in pollen levels, and by mid-March, they are significantly high. Keep warm clothes within reach as the conditions tend to be cold in March in Nevada.
Weather in April
April brings warm temperatures to Nevada with much of the land freeze-free by the middle of the spring season. A few areas in the north and central zones receive 2" (50.8mm) to 4" (101.6mm) of snow. The average high temperatures are in the warm 55°F (12.8°C) to 86°F (30°C), while nights are between a cold 36°F (2.2°C) to mild 56°F (13.3°C) statewide. April sees an average of 1" (25.4mm) to 2" (50.8mm) of rainfall, with 9 to 10 hours of bright sunshine. Caliente in the central region registers a wide temperature range between 36°F (2.2°C) to 68°F (20°C), while Boulder City in the south is warm between 56°F (13.3°C) to 75°F (23.9°C). The icecaps remain intact in the Sierra Nevada, but the lower plains are free from snow in spring. The alpine and sub-alpine zones witness blossoming flowers, and the highlands offer unbridled natural beauty. Hiking in the mountains is a popular activity during the day, and even camping is desirable where the night temperatures are mild. April is one of the best times to visit Nevada.
Weather in May
May is a beautifully warm and sunny month in Nevada with clear skies and rarely any snow. The average high temperatures are in the warm 64°F (17.8°C) to hot 96°F (35.6°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the mild 31°F (-0.6°C) to warm 65°F (18.3°C) zone. Reno registers moderate temperatures between 46°F (7.8°C) to 74°F (23.3°C) compared to the hot parts of the south. An average of 22 sunny days in the month provides plenty of sunshine for outdoor activities. The central region receives measurable rain, and thunderstorms may cause local floods. Summer clothing is sufficient in May, but a light sweater or jacket is useful during the cool nights. Keep in mind that pollen allergies are high during the peak of the spring season. Mulberry and olives also bloom and are the worst pollen offenders. Keep cool by skipping outdoor explorations in the afternoons. Expect the day temperatures to increase rapidly, especially in the south by the end of May in Nevada.
Weather in June
June is the beginning of the hot summer season in Nevada with a negligible amount of rain. Average high temperatures are in the hot range of 74°F (23.3°C) to 105°F (40.6°C), while the average low temperatures are in the mild 37°F (2.8°C) to warm 75°F (23.9°C) range. The ten hours of brilliant sunshine mostly see dry conditions with low humidity. Night skies are clear with millions of stars on display. Summers are prone to thunderstorms and even hailstorms that bring heavy rainfall within a few hours. The mountains of the Sierra Nevada offer relatively lower temperatures, while Lake Tahoe in the west is an ideal spot for relaxation during the hot summer. Heatwaves are common in the arid areas where lack of vegetation makes the conditions challenging. Flash foods occur suddenly in the event of heavy rainfall, so keep an eye on the weather. It is prudent to avoid outdoor explorations during midday when the intensity of the sunrays is at a peak in June in Nevada.
Weather in July
July is usually the hottest month of the year in Nevada with the sun scorching the arid landscape. The average high temperatures are in the blistering 85°F (29.4°C) to 110°F (43.3°C) range, but night temperatures drop drastically between 40°F (4.4°C) to 80°F (26.7°C). Las Vegas and Laughlin in southern Nevada registers temperatures in the 81°F (27.2°C) to 104°F (40°C) range, while Virginia City in the Reno area is between 60°F (15.6°C) to 84°F (28.9°C). Mountain lodges see plenty of visitors as the conditions are cooler than the plains, and the alpine climate is comfortable during the summer. Camping and fishing in the national and state parks are popular, along with bird watching and spotting wild animals. The precipitation is scarce in and registers hardly to the tune of 1" (25.4mm) to 2" (50.8mm). The night skies are astoundingly clear and offer one of the best periods for stargazing of the year. Wear light summer clothing with broad-brimmed hats to counter the blazing sun of July in Nevada.
Weather in August
August is hot and dry in the summer of Nevada with day temperatures in the 82°F (27.8°C) to 108°F (42.2°C) range. Nights are between 38°F (3.3°C) to 79°F (26.1°C), with the low end in the alpine zone of the high mountains. The sunshine lasts for 10 hours daily, and the long hours of daylight make for a great time hiking the mountains. Camping in the backcountry is challenging as the night temperatures drop drastically but is a thrilling adventure for those who seek it. Nevada is likely to experience tornadoes and thunderstorms in late summer. The precipitation is negligible in the state except for the eastern region, where it is in measurable quantities. Light summer clothing is sufficient in the lowlands as well as the arid regions. The vast desert lands make for some of the most amazing sports adventures for those who can bear the scorching sun. Watch out for severely dry conditions that can stoke wildfires in August in Nevada.
Weather in September
September begins the autumn season in Nevada in the second half of the month. The sunshine lasts for 9 hours a day, and the highlands see a change in colors. The average high temperatures in early autumn are in the warm 75°F (23.9°C) to 102°F (38.9°C) range, and the average low temperatures are in the mild 31°F (-0.6°C) to 71°F (21.7°C) range. Winnemucca in the north registers temperatures between 40°F (4.4°C) to 81°F (27.2°C), while Ely in the central region is between 38°F (3.3°C) to 76°F (24.4°C). The fall season is the driest period in the year statewide. Mountain trails invite adventure seekers, and campgrounds are busy in the fall season. Hunters seek the large numbers of grouse, partridge, pheasant, quail, and wild turkey, cotton, and white-tail rabbits in the daylight. Temperatures fall rapidly after sunset and often more than 30°F (-1.1°C) to those during the day. Evenings have a gentle breeze in the highlands, and even in the lowlands, the conditions are comfortable. September sees many visitors in Nevada.
Weather in October
October is the driest month of the year in Nevada as the autumn season progresses rapidly. The average high temperatures tend to be pleasant in the day in the 63°F (17.2°C) to 88°F (31.1°C) range but the nights tend to be cold with the average low temperatures in the 23°F (-5°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) zone. Although much of the land is arid, the highlands lie in the sub-alpine and alpine zone and display beautiful hues of orange, crimson, purple, yellow, and gold. The best colors display when the temperatures cool gradually, and the conditions are mild. A sudden cold snap or early snow can see the leaves leaving the trees rapidly. The Spooner Backcountry area at Lake Tahoe State Park is one of the popular places for viewing fall colors. The fall season attracts heavy tourist footfall in Nevada. Expect nights to be cold in the autumn. Wear a jacket or sweater as October is windy in the fall season of Nevada.
Weather in November
November ends the autumn season in Nevada with a significant drop in temperatures in the state. The average high temperatures are in the cold 47°F (8.3°C) to warm 74°F (23.3°C), while the average low temperatures drop well below the freezing range in many places and are between 15°F (-9.4°C) to 48°F (8.9°C). Eureka in central Nevada registers between a cold 24°F (-4.4°C) to 47°F (8.3°C). The mountain ranges gather significant snow above 20" (508mm), while the average snowfall in the rest of the state is from 5" (127mm) to 8" (203.2mm). The sunlight is still strong at 8 hours a day, but the temperatures drop quickly after sunset. Cold fronts frequently occur in November in the north, west, and central regions. Tourist numbers slow down during the final days of autumn when the conditions become chilly. Pack layers of clothing if planning a visit even to southern Nevada. Budget travelers find November an excellent time to visit Nevada with better deals than the early part of the season and still reasonable weather.
Weather in December
December is the coldest month of the year in Nevada, with the average high temperatures in the 37°F (2.8°C) to 63°F (17.2°C) range and the average low temperatures in the chilling 8°F (-13.3°C) to 40°F (4.4°C) zone. Precipitation is low, but measurable snowfall in the range of 4" (101.6mm) to 8" (203.2mm) occurs in the northern mountains. Eight to ten sunny days, along with clear skies, keep temperatures warm during the day. Winter is an off-season with accommodations generally cheaper than spring and autumn. However, activities related to snow like skiing and snowboarding find many takers. Be sure to keep vehicles worthy of icy roads in the winter. It is a scary experience when a vehicle battery is unable to crank in the middle of nowhere in chilly conditions. Winter storms occasionally hit the state and deposit significant snow on the roads. A jacket is suitable in the day, but layers of clothing are mandatory after sunset. Christmas is white in several places with a substantial amount of snow in December in Nevada.