Climate and monthly weather forecast
North Carolina, USA

Flag of North Carolina, USA
Flag of North Carolina, USA

The climate of North Carolina

North Carolina climate is mostly humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa) except for a subtropical highland type (Köppen Cfb) on the high slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. Summers are hot and humid, while winters are wet and cold. North Carolina is a part of the southeastern United States. Georgia and South Carolina to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east share borders with the state. The latitude and altitude chiefly influence the climate, along with the warm Gulf Stream and the cold Labrador currents.

North Carolina, the Old North State, has three geographical divisions. The Coastal Plains constitute half the area of the state and consists of flat, swampy lands as well as gently sloping terrain. The Piedmont Division chiefly consists of hard rock and gently sloping hills with sporadic steep ranges that extend to the base of the mountains. The Mountain Division comprises the westernmost part of North Carolina and covers one-fifth of the state's area. Elevations stretch from 450 meters to 2025 meters at the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the state. North Carolina has an average elevation of 500 meters above sea level.

The best time to visit North Carolina

The best time to visit North Carolina is typically from spring in mid-April to autumn in mid-October. Summer is the peak of the tourist season, and budget travelers get better deals in the shoulder seasons of early spring and late autumn due to fewer crowds. Thunderstorms and convectional rainfall are prominent in July. The temperatures rise significantly faster in May than any other month and drop rapidly in October. The fall season is pleasant, with the lowest amount of rainfall in the year. Hiking, fishing, boating, and hunting are popular, with abundant forests, and mountains with streams. The inland water zones are calm and quiet and popular spots for fishing.

The worst time to visit North Carolina

The worst time to visit North Carolina, if there is any, is the winter season from December to February. The temperatures breach the 10°F (-12.2°C) at least once in the winter in central North Carolina and drop up to 0°F (-17.8°C) in the high mountains. High mountains peaks receive up to 50" (1270mm) of snow in the cold season. Many tourists visit the warm southern parts of the state during the winter when the northern part of the United States is frigid. Cold waves are frequent, along with snow and sleet.

Spring weather in North Carolina

Spring in North Carolina provides pleasant weather with temperatures transitioning from winter's cold to the heat of summer. Average temperatures during this season generally range from 50°F (10°C) to 70°F (21.1°C). The coastal regions, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, tend to be cooler. Rainfall during this period is moderate, and sunshine is abundant. It is an ideal time for outdoor activities such as bird-watching, hiking, and exploring gardens.

Summer weather in North Carolina

Summers in North Carolina are characterized by hot and humid conditions, especially in the Coastal Plains and Piedmont regions. Temperatures can reach up to 90°F (32.2°C) or higher in these areas, while in the Mountain Division, temperatures remain below 80°F (26.7°C) at higher altitudes. The summer is the wettest season with occasional thunderstorms. Despite the heat, the coastal areas offer some relief due to ocean breezes.

Autumn weather in North Carolina

Autumn brings moderate temperatures to North Carolina, ranging from 60°F (15.6°C) to 75°F (23.9°C), but they drop rapidly towards the latter half of the season. It is the driest time of the year with colorful foliage and clear skies. This season provides a great opportunity to explore the state's scenic beauty and enjoy various outdoor activities, including hiking in the mountains.

Winter weather in North Carolina

Winters in North Carolina vary significantly across the state, with temperatures ranging from 20°F (-6.7°C) to 50°F (10°C). Coastal areas experience minimal snowfall, while the high mountain slopes may receive up to 50" (1270mm) of snow. The southern Piedmont region experiences milder winters, with minimal snow. Winter sports enthusiasts can take advantage of the snow in the mountains, but cold waves and icy conditions may hinder travel at times.

Weather in January

January is one of the coldest months of the year in North Carolina. The state's varied topography leads to significant differences in weather conditions across the regions. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 32°F (0°C) to 50°F (10°C), and snowfall is minimal, with only occasional sleet and snow. Weather in January »

Weather in February

February continues the winter season in North Carolina, with temperatures slightly rising compared to January but still remaining within the cold spectrum. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 34°F (1.1°C) to 54°F (12.2°C), a modest increase from the previous month. Weather in February »

Weather in March

March in North Carolina marks the beginning of a noticeable transition from winter to spring. The temperatures climb, and the snow begins to recede, except in the higher altitudes. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 40°F (4.4°C) to 60°F (15.6°C), with minimal chances of snowfall. Weather in March »

Weather in April

April ushers in the full bloom of spring in North Carolina, characterized by milder temperatures and more pleasant weather conditions. The Coastal Plains experience temperatures from 48°F (8.9°C) to 69°F (20.6°C), a significant warming from the preceding months. Weather in April »

Weather in May

May in North Carolina sees a marked transition towards summer, with temperatures rising significantly across all regions. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 56°F (13.3°C) to 77°F (25°C), paving the way for beach activities. Weather in May »

Weather in June

June in North Carolina represents the full onset of summer, with long, warm days and typically more humid conditions. The Coastal Plains experience temperatures from 64°F (17.8°C) to 85°F (29.4°C), with coastal cities like Wilmington embracing the beach season. Weather in June »

Weather in July

July in North Carolina is characterized by hot and humid conditions, reflecting the peak of summer in the state. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 69°F (20.6°C) to 88°F (31.1°C). Coastal cities such as Wilmington experience high humidity, and thunderstorms and convectional rainfall become prominent. Weather in July »

Weather in August

August in North Carolina continues the trend of hot and humid summer weather but begins to show signs of an approaching transition to autumn. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures typically range from 68°F (20°C) to 87°F (30.6°C), slightly cooler than July. Weather in August »

Weather in September

September in North Carolina heralds the arrival of autumn, marked by moderating temperatures and decreasing humidity across the state. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 62°F (16.7°C) to 82°F (27.8°C). Weather in September »

Weather in October

October in North Carolina marks a full embrace of autumn, with temperatures continuing to drop and the landscape transforming with vibrant fall colors. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 51°F (10.6°C) to 73°F (22.8°C). Weather in October »

Weather in November

November in North Carolina brings a noticeable chill as winter approaches, and the autumn colors begin to fade. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures typically range from 42°F (5.6°C) to 63°F (17.2°C). Coastal cities such as Wilmington experience a marked drop in temperature, signaling the end of beach season. The Piedmont Division, with cities like Raleigh and Charlotte, observes temperatures from 40°F (4.4°C) to 62°F (16.7°C). Weather in November »

Weather in December

December in North Carolina ushers in winter, and the state experiences a significant shift in weather patterns. In the Coastal Plains, temperatures range from 34°F (1.1°C) to 55°F (12.8°C). Coastal cities like Wilmington transition fully into winter, with chillier winds and occasional frost. The Piedmont Division experiences temperatures from 32°F (0°C) to 54°F (12.2°C). Weather in December »
Resources | Updated: Feb 1, 2024 | Published by: Weather Atlas

North Carolina, USA

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