New York State experiences a humid continental type of climate as per Köppen climate classification with warm and humid summers and cold and wet winters. The state has an international border with Canada's Quebec and Ontario on the north and northwest, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the south, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east and a maritime border along the Atlantic Ocean with Rhode Island. Upstate New York comprises ranges of the Appalachian Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains in the northeastern part of the state. Downstate consists of the Greater New York Metropolitan Area, including New York City, parts of Hudson Valley, and Long Island. Western New York consists of the Great Lakes Region, while the central region hosts the Finger Lakes.
Two types of air masses significantly affect New York weather: a warm and humid one from the southwest and a cold and dry one from the northwest. The majority of the terrain consists of mountains, forests, meadows, farms, lakes, and rivers. Upstate has warm summers and long and cold winters with a massive amount of snow. Downstate has warm and humid summers and cold, wet winters that are relatively mild compared to upstate due to its lower elevation, lower latitude, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. New York City has a humid subtropical climate with exacerbation of the urban heat island effect due to large-scale urbanization that sees higher temperatures by 5°F (-15°C) to 7°F (-13.9°C) over the surrounding areas.
Summer day temperatures usually range between 70°F (21.1°C) to 85°F (29.4°C) in most of the state. Winter temperatures drop below freezing in the cold north, while they are mild and a few degrees above freezing along the southern part close to the Atlantic coast. Temperature differences between the warm coastal areas over northern inland regions are often up to 36°F (2.2°C). Cold-air damming leads to extended periods of cloudy skies and rain east of the Appalachians; western New York is more overcast compared to south and east due to proximity to the Great Lakes Region.
Annual precipitation averages to 46" (1168.4mm) across the state with the highest occurrence of rainfall and snowfall in the Great Lakes region and the lowest in the southwestern parts of the state. Lake-effect snow to the tune of 150 to 200" (5080mm) falls downwind of the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario regions. Thunderstorms usually invade the state from the Canadian side, while tropical cyclones are typical from the southwest during summer and fall.
The best time to visit New York
The best time to visit New York is during spring and autumn, particularly from April to May and mid-September to October. Mid-spring is relatively drier compared to the early part of the spring with a low likelihood of snowfall and storms, and warmer temperatures. Summers are hot and humid along the coast as the temperatures soar to 85°F (29.4°C) during the day. Mid fall has relatively warmer temperatures compared to the summer heat with a less chance of cyclones. Around October, the spectacular colors of the fall foliage make for a pleasant trip to New York.
The worst time to visit New York
Winter is the worst time to visit New York as the state experiences cold and wet weather. Upstate New York and highlands experience intense cold with vast amounts of snowfall often up to 200" (5080mm). The coastal areas nearby the Atlantic Ocean are comparatively warmer to the northern parts of the state, particularly the mountain ranges and the Great Lakes region. However, temperatures are near freezing during the winter nights, while the days see low temperatures, less sunshine, and cloudy conditions. Although a majority of towns and cities employ regular snow removal measures, the roads are slippery due to black ice.
New York is prone to thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes in summer and early fall, and snowstorms during the winter. An average of ten tornadoes engulf New York every year, and one in five years falls in the strong or violent (EF2-EF5) category. Summer and early fall see thunderstorm movement from the Canadian and the Great Lakes area; tropical cyclones are also active and move from the south and southwest directions. Snowstorms typical of the North-East part of the country severely hamper the conditions, sometimes for many days on end.
Weather in January
January is the coldest month of the year in New York with the regions near Adirondacks in the frigid 3°F (-16.1°C) to 29°F (-1.7°C) average range - a few days drop even below 0°F (-17.8°C). The western and central parts of the state average 13°F (-10.6°C) to 30°F (-1.1°C) with the regions near Hudson Valley and Catskills mountains in the average range of 12°F (-11.1°C) to 31°F (-0.6°C). Downstate New York records mild temperatures, but still well below freezing in the average range of 21°F (-6.1°C) to 40°F (4.4°C). January is also the snowiest month of the year, which witnesses one-third of the average annual snowfall across the state. While the mountains, highlands, and lake regions register an average of 150" (3810mm) to 200" (5080mm) of snow, the rest of the state records 25" (635mm) to 100" (2540mm) - the least amount of snowfall in the southern coastal areas. An average of 3" (76.2mm) of rain falls in the state in January except near the lakes and highlands that register much more. Expect the sunshine to last only for 4 hours a day amid cloudy and wet skies and avoid New York during January.
Weather in February
February is a cold winter month in New York with the average low temperatures in the cold 5°F (-15°C) to 26°F (-3.3°C) zone and the average high temperatures in the 28°F (-2.2°C) to 42°F (5.6°C) range across different regions of the state. Old Forge and Tupper Lake in the northern Adirondacks register some of the coldest temperatures, while Brooklyn and Central Park record some of the highest temperatures in New York in February. Sunny days are not absent, but the number of hours of daily sunshine and intensity of the sunrays often drops to 50% of that during the summer. Snowstorms are common in the country's North East and New York frequently encounters these in February that brings a large amount of snow and severe cold along with them. Cloud cover and humidity increase in winter, and the rain makes a regular entry in most parts of the state. Overall, expect snow and ice cover on the ground with slippery roads as the sun peeks from the clouds occasionally, and the people go routinely about their business!
Weather in March
March is a cold and wet month that starts the spring season in New York. Downstate registers an average rainfall to the tune of 4" (101.6mm) with Long Island a little more at 5" (127mm). In the north, Massena in the Adirondacks records the least 2.1" (53.3mm), while the state records an average of 3" (76.2mm). Average high temperatures are in the mild 37°F (2.8°C) to 50°F (10°C) range, while the average lows are below freezing in the 14°F (-10°C) to 26°F (-3.3°C) range. Central Park in New York City sees milder day temperatures around 50°F (10°C) with breezy conditions and occasional light rain showers. March sunshine averages 7 hours across the state with a drop in the snowfall, mainly in the lowlands and the southeast parts of the state. The humidity of 65% and cloudy weather is common to most parts of the state as the fresh aroma of spring blossoms everywhere. Overall, March is breezy with milder day temperatures and chilly night conditions, so pack in layers and add an umbrella or a raincoat as a useful accessory.
Weather in April
April is a wonderful month in New York, especially in the upstate rural parts of the state, with flowers blossoming in the rugged terrain as the forests and hills come alive after the departure of the chilly winter. It rains in New York throughout the year in the 3" (76.2mm) to 4" (101.6mm) range, and April is no exception. Snowfall is almost absent except in the mountain ranges, highlands, and the lake regions. Sunny days with rare overcast conditions are the general flavor of the month as the average sunshine lasts up to a daily 7 hours. Average temperatures range from a low of 29°F (-1.7°C) in the mountains to a high of 61°F (16.1°C) in the coastal south. April in New York sees early tourists due to the pleasant weather with a rise in temperatures and the absence of harsh conditions. Warm clothing is the order of the day, and it certainly helps to carry rain protection in the form of a raincoat or umbrella.
Weather in May
May is one of the best times to visit New York with brilliant sunshine lasting up to 8 hours a day. Sunny days abound with pleasant temperatures throughout the state: average highs are 65°F (18.3°C) to 70°F (21.1°C), while average lows are between 39°F (3.9°C) and 54°F (12.2°C). Late spring is a fantastic time to be in the Finger Lakes region in Central New York, which is a popular getaway with warm temperatures in the range of 45°F (7.2°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) in May. Although precipitation is typical, it is mostly in the form of light showers that do not extend for long periods. The beaches lie in the southern part of the state, but the average sea temperatures are such that the water is always cold; hence, they are not as popular as some of those in the other parts of the country. Beware, wind and rain are always a factor in New York - so always carry some rain protection.
Weather in June
June is summer in New York with average temperatures in the sunny 75°F (23.9°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) range and average lows of 47°F (8.3°C) to 64°F (17.8°C). The state averages approximately 20 sunny days during the month with 9 hours of daily sunshine. Near the Canadian border in western New York, Niagara Falls is a great place to be in June with temperatures in the cozy 56°F (13.3°C) to 77°F (25°C) range. To the south, areas near the Hudson Valley and Catskills mountains record a warm 57°F (13.9°C) to 80°F (26.7°C). Downstate New York is warm in the 60°F (15.6°C) to 80°F (26.7°C), while nights are warmer due to the urban heat island effect, although the state ranks high in containing per capita greenhouse gas effects, thanks to the extensive use of mass transportation. Summers witness occasional thunderstorms with heavy rain, while tornadoes are not uncommon. Keep an eye on the weather, particularly in deep-sea excursions in the south. June is an excellent month with moderate weather and sees the tourist influx in New York.
Weather in July
July is the hottest month of the year in New York with average high temperatures of 75°F (23.9°C) to 85°F (29.4°C). New York City experiences many days that cross 95°F (35°C), while a few even touch the psychological barrier of 100°F (37.8°C). Downstate New York is hot and sultry with the temperatures of mostly 85°F (29.4°C) as an occasional shower makes an appearance with the rise in humidity and cloud cover. July is a beautiful time to travel to the Great Lakes region, which experiences more rainfall than other parts of the state. Keep in mind that the average seawater temperatures around New York City is cold and seldom crosses 73°F (22.8°C), which is not enjoyable for water activities like swimming. Thunderstorms are also common in July, and it tends to be the wettest month in many parts of the state - better to avoid it as much pleasant weather waits during the fall.
Weather in August
August is a hot summer month, as many parts of the state register a few days above 90°F (32.2°C). However, the average high temperatures are in the 75°F (23.9°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) range due to the sticky heat and partly cloudy skies. Sunny days are also plenty in August as the sunshine averages for 9 hours a day. On the western side, high temperatures average 76°F (24.4°C) to 78°F (25.6°C) in Allegany, Buffalo, and Rochester, while Saratoga and Albany in the Hudson Valley are warmer at an average of 80°F (26.7°C) to 82°F (27.8°C). Rainfall averages 3" (76.2mm) in most of the lowlands in the state with the humidity in the range of 67% to 70%. Light sweatshirts are sufficient during the days, while nights also experience mild temperatures that do not warrant layering of clothes. By the end of August, temperatures, and humidity start to dip, gradually making the weather more pleasant.
Weather in September
September transitions to the beautiful autumn season that sees the average high temperatures of 68°F (20°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range. Nights are relatively cooler: in the Hudson Valley, Saratoga and Albany have average low temperatures of 50°F (10°C), while the central part of the state sees Elmira and Ithaca average 48°F (8.9°C). Summer thunderstorms occasionally occur in early fall with bouts of rain and wind. Perfect blue skies do happen occasionally, but they intersperse between sunny and cloudy conditions. September days are perfect for exploring the Great Lakes region or a hike in the northern mountains, but keep an eye on the weather, while on holiday in the coastal areas as sometimes tropical cyclones deposit heavy rainfall on the coasts. Autumn is a great time to visit New York City, and the nearby Long Island as the weather is soothing, and the days and nights both have comfortable temperatures.
Weather in October
October displays spectacular fall foliage in New York; it is particularly breathtaking in upstate New York, which has a diverse landscape of lakes, rivers, streams, meadows, and mountains. It is one of the best times to visit New York with wonderful weather and witness nature in its full glory. Average high temperatures are in the range of 55°F (12.8°C) to 65°F (18.3°C), while average low temperatures register 36°F (2.2°C) to 50°F (10°C) across the state. Days are pleasant, with average sunshine of 7 hours, while nights are cold and damp. Early morning tends to be foggy in many parts of the state, and few days have overcast conditions. Buffalo in Western New York averages an annual cloud cover of 70%, while the Great Lakes region typically has more cloud conditions than the rest of the state. Overall, October is a fantastic month to move around New York as the weather is mild, and the threat of storms, tornadoes, and snow is mostly non-existent.
Weather in November
November is the last month of the autumn in New York that sees mild to cold temperatures in the state. While the days average mild 45°F (7.2°C) to 55°F (12.8°C), the nights are chillier in the 27°F (-2.8°C) to 40°F (4.4°C) average range. November sees snowfall in many places in the state as central and western parts record 5" (127mm) to 10" (254mm), while Lake Placid and Old Forge near Adirondacks register 10" (254mm) to 18" (457.2mm); even relatively warm places like New York City witness a few flakes of snow. Rain is also persistent in most of the state with an average of 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm). Sunny days are rare in November as the daily sunshine reduces to 4 hours. Though the day temperatures are agreeable, the overall weather conditions tend to give a touch of coldness to the air, and by the second half of the month, it is almost like winter. Hence, it is a good idea if you can, to pack up and leave New York State by the end of November!
Weather in December
December is a cold winter month with the average high temperatures in the 35°F (1.7°C) to 45°F (7.2°C) range and the average low temperatures in the freezing 15°F (-9.4°C) to 25°F (-3.9°C) range across the state. Snowfall is severe in the northwest lake regions and the northeast mountains with the average often beyond 50" (1270mm) in December. The temperatures are milder in the southern part of the state along the coastal areas with New York City in the average range of 32°F (0°C) to 43°F (6.1°C), while the capital of New York, Albany, averages 21°F (-6.1°C) to 36°F (2.2°C). Sunshine limits to an average of 4 hours per day across the state due to the frequent cloud cover and rain. The highlands and lakes receive rain, sleet, and snow, while the lowlands and warmer regions register 3" (76.2mm) to 4" (101.6mm) of precipitation. Warm winter coats, mittens, gloves, boots, and caps go a long way during Christmas and New Year's Eve to face the intense cold, especially in upstate New York.