Ohio has a humid continental type of climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa, Dfb) in much of the state and a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) in the extreme south. The warmth increases from north to south regions, with typically hot summers and cold winters. Ohio lies in the Great Lakes region of North America. Michigan in the northwest, Lake Erie in the north, Pennsylvania in the east, West Virginia in the southeast, Kentucky in the south, and Indiana in the west, border the state. The high latitudes, lack of high mountain ranges, and proximity to the Great Lakes are major players that dominate the climate.
Ohio, The Buckeye State, has an average elevation of 260 meters above sea level, with the highest point at Campbell Hill at 472 meters. Lake Erie defines much of the northern border and provides the state with over 300 miles of the coast. The Ohio River forms the southern border. Glaciated Till Plains dominate the topography, with the Great Black Swamp, a flat area in the northwest. The Allegheny Plateau is a region of hills and forests to the east and southeast of the plains. The Scioto River, Maumee River, Muskingum River, Cuyahoga River, and the Great Miami River are the main rivers in the state. The northern part of Ohio drains into the North Atlantic Ocean, while the southern part drains into the Gulf of Mexico.
Summers are hot and humid in Ohio, with average high temperatures rising to 90°F (32.2°C) at the peak of July. Lake Erie moderates temperatures in the northeast coastal region during spring and summer by a few degrees. Polar air masses from the north and hot tropical air from the south clash to produce frequent changes in the cold season. Winters are cold and verge on being bitter, with nights below 15°F (-9.4°C) in the north during January. Lake effect snowstorms occur on Lake Erie's southeast shore. Spring has warm temperatures but is prone to tornadoes and thunderstorms. Autumn has cloudy skies but pleasant temperatures and less rain.
The average annual rainfall in Ohio is 38" (965.2mm) and occurs throughout the year. Cyclones contribute to the rainfall from October to March, while thunderstorms are significant contributors during the rest of the year. The average monthly rainfall is between 2" (50.8mm) to 5" (127mm), with October the driest and April the wettest. Snowfall varies from 16" (406.4mm) in the south to 35" (889mm) in the northwest and 90" (2286mm) in the extreme northeast. The growing season lasts up to 200 days in coastal areas due to the beneficial effect of Lake Erie. The relative humidity level throughout the year is 75%. September and October are prone to dense fog as is January, with visibility under one-fourth of a mile. Ohio receives 2200 hours of sunshine annually.
The record high temperature for Ohio is 113°F (45°C), set in Gallipolis on July 21, 1934, while the lowest recorded temperature is -39°F (-39.4°C), set in Milligan on February 10, 1899.
The best time to visit Ohio
The best time to visit Ohio is in the fall season from September to October when the temperatures are pleasant, and the rainfall is less. There is ample sunlight and the day temperatures are in the comfortable 60°F (15.6°C) to 80°F (26.7°C) zone. Nights are mild in the range of 40°F (4.4°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) and become cold in the latter half of autumn. The summer storm activity eases considerably in the autumn, but the skies tend to be cloudy. Fall is the most colorful time of the year, and the landscape bathes in breathtaking hues. Fall vacations are budget-friendly than the summer.
The worst time to visit Ohio
The worst time to visit Ohio is during the winter season from December to February when severe cold holds its grip on the state. The northern regions are colder than the south, and night temperatures often drop below 0°F (-17.8°C). Strong wind speeds exacerbate the cold in the absence of natural mountain barriers. Polar air masses invade from the north and penetrate even the south. Snowstorms are frequent in the winter, with lake effect snow in the coastal areas of Lake Erie. Fog frequency peaks in the winter near the Great Lakes region.
Ohio is vulnerable to thunderstorms, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, cyclones, and snowstorms. Floods occur mostly in winter due to a combination of excessive rainfall and wet saturated ground along with snowmelt in spring and summer. Earthquakes of low intensity occur due to numerous fault lines, particularly in Western Ohio and Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zones. Storms from the Gulf of Mexico occasionally bring a copious amount of moisture and snow west of the Appalachians. Straight-line winds blow during severe thunderstorms in the heart of the summer season. Tornadoes are less in number but produce more fatalities due to high wind speeds from 110 to above 200mph (321.9km/h). Hail, tornadoes, and high winds produce most of the damage.
Weather in January
January is generally the coldest month of the year in Ohio and also the snowiest. The average temperatures are in the chilly 17°F (-8.3°C) to 44°F (6.7°C) and drop below 0°F (-17.8°C) in a few places. Columbus, the capital in the south, registers between 23°F (-5°C) to 37°F (2.8°C), while Chippewa Lake in the north is between a cold 17°F (-8.3°C) to 32°F (0°C) range. The rainfall is less than 4" (101.6mm), but ice and snow are major contributors to the precipitation. Northern Ohio receives between 10" (254mm) to 15" (381mm) of snow, while the south registers between 4" (101.6mm) to 8" (203.2mm). The skies remain dark with weak sunshine that lasts for hardly 4 hours a day. Warm winter coats are mandatory when moving outdoors, and heaters run 24/7 to provide much necessary warmth. Ice fishing and ice skating are popular among the population as tourists avoid the state in the winter. Fog is a regular feature in the cold season. January is cheap on the wallet for visitors who can bear the cold in Ohio.
Weather in February
February is cold in Ohio, with average temperatures in the 19°F (-7.2°C) to 49°F (9.4°C) range. Lake effect snow is prominent along the southern shores of Lake Erie. The northern region receives 8" (203.2mm) to 10" (254mm) of snowfall compared to 3" (76.2mm) to 5" (127mm) in the south. High elevations receive a substantial amount of snow and are the coldest areas in the neighborhood. Snowstorms frequently invade the state as the cold arctic air reaches the heart of Ohio. Advection fog is common in the winter when the warm southerly air flows over the snow-covered ground. Lake Erie lies under a dense fog cover during the winter. Expect icy conditions and hazardous roads that are rendered slippery due to black ice. Warm coats and layered clothing is often necessary even while going out to buy essential supplies. Offices, as well as public places, run heaters all the time to keep the conditions cozy. February is not a favorable month to visit Ohio.
Weather in March
March is cold in Ohio as the cloudy state welcomes the short spring season by the second half of the month. The average high temperatures are in the zone of 45°F (7.2°C) to 59°F (15°C), while the average low temperatures are between 27°F (-2.8°C) to 34°F (1.1°C). Precipitation sees a slight uptick, but there is a decrease in snowfall. Snowfall moderates in the north between 4" (101.6mm) to 8" (203.2mm) and is light in the south by the end of March. Cleveland in the north registers cold temperatures between 30°F (-1.1°C) to 47°F (8.3°C), while Cincinnati in the south is relatively warmer between 33°F (0.6°C) to 55°F (12.8°C). The spring season is unpredictable, with a combination of sudden rain, a cold wave, bright sunny days, or even a snowstorm. Bright colors and shiny rainbows are generally missing, although there are occasional chirpings of birds and sounds of animals. The 5 hours of sunshine is weak and does not melt the snow cover entirely. Temperatures improve significantly by the end of March in Ohio.
Weather in April
April is cold to warm and wet in Ohio, with partly cloudy skies and up to 3" (76.2mm) of rainfall. The snowfall is over in the south and is light to moderate in the northern part of the state. The southern portion becomes freeze-free in April as well as much of the north. The average high temperatures are in the comfortable 59°F (15°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) range, while the average low temperatures are above the freezing range of 37°F (2.8°C) to 44°F (6.7°C). Findlay in the north registers between 40°F (4.4°C) to 61°F (16.1°C), while Newark in the south is relatively warmer between 38°F (3.3°C) to 62°F (16.7°C). Foggy conditions give way to clear weather as the spring season charges the atmosphere. The melting of snow recharges the water levels of the rivers, lakes, and streams. Consequently, fishing enthusiasts are never short of fish in the cold waters of spring. The weather warms up significantly by the arrival of Easter in the fourth week of April in Ohio.
Weather in May
May is wet in the spring season of Ohio with 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) of rainfall and wetter south compared to the north. The daily sunshine of 7 hours is of moderate intensity and charges the atmosphere. The average day temperatures are in the warm 69°F (20.6°C) to 78°F (25.6°C) range, while the nights tend to be cold but comfortable between 47°F (8.3°C) to 54°F (12.2°C). Lima in the north registers temperatures between 50°F (10°C) to 71°F (21.7°C), while Dayton in the south is between 53°F (11.7°C) to 74°F (23.3°C). The ground is freeze-free by early May statewide, paving the way for the growing season. Localized floods swell the rivers and streams due to heavy rainfall and the melting of snow. There are many sunny days between wet periods, and the state sees a rise in tourist footfall. Wear rain jackets while outdoors for protection from sudden rain. Expect temperatures to rise with each passing day. Budget travelers find travel and hotel deals in Ohio in May.
Weather in June
June is the beginning of the hot and humid summer season in Ohio, with daily highs in the 78°F (25.6°C) to 86°F (30°C) range. Mid-day time is the hottest, and afternoons are prone to thunderstorms. Nights are comfortable in the zone of 57°F (13.9°C) to 63°F (17.2°C), although the skies tend to be cloudy. The precipitation is between 4" (101.6mm) to 5" (127mm) in the span of 10 to 12 wet days in much of the state. Occasional hailstorms cause damage to crops and push down the temperatures. The increased humidity brings sweatshirts into play during the day. There is no time like the summer to lie in the pool and relax during the hot days. Hiking and biking are popular activities, for which mornings are preferable. The landscape is lush green, with flowers blossoming everywhere. The countryside is particularly scenic with narrow roads and a dash of colors. June sees a large number of visitors in Ohio due to the sunny weather.
Weather in July
July is the peak of the summer season in Ohio, with temperatures routinely above 90°F (32.2°C). The average high temperatures, however, remain in the 82°F (27.8°C) to 90°F (32.2°C) range, and the average low temperatures are in the comfortable zone of 61°F (16.1°C) to 68°F (20°C). Toledo in the north is between 62°F (16.7°C) to 85°F (29.4°C), while Wilmington in the south is in the 62°F (16.7°C) to 84°F (28.9°C) range. Sweltering hot days frequently occur and push the population to find ways to cool down. Swimming pools are popular as well as the shores of Lake Erie, which though not like the ocean beaches, do offer many ways of relaxation. Although mountains are in shortage in Ohio, the south consists of rugged forests and hills which are suitable for hiking and trekking. The frequency of thunderstorms is high in the summer and brings a copious amount of rain. A perfect summer afternoon may suddenly see dark clouds and heavy precipitation. Many people prefer the perfect pool weather days of July to the cold of winter.
Weather in August
August is hot and humid in Ohio, with the day temperatures between 80°F (26.7°C) to 89°F (31.7°C). Nights are relatively mild by the end of the summer in the 59°F (15°C) to 66°F (18.9°C) range. The relative humidity is at a high level, which makes it an ideal time to wear t-shirts, sweatshirts, and shorts. The 3" (76.2mm) to 4" (101.6mm) of rainfall provides a lifeline to the crops that grow in the season. August sees 20 to 22 sunny days, but thunderstorms and occasionally, even tornadoes, are active in late summer. The open prairie is prone to sizzling hot conditions during the day that change to mild night weather. Lake Erie is a popular destination for summer vacations, and people visit the shores all the way from the south of the state. It is prudent to utilize morning or evening hours for boating in the lake. Keep an eye on the weather, as a tornado may occasionally invade Ohio in August.
Weather in September
September brings the beautiful autumn season to Ohio, with a significant drop in the heat index. The hot and humid weather gives way to pleasing conditions as the day temperatures register in the 73°F (22.8°C) to 82°F (27.8°C) range. While the days are sunny, the nights are comfortable between 52°F (11.1°C) to 59°F (15°C). Portsmouth in the south is between 55°F (12.8°C) to 80°F (26.7°C), while Mansfield in the north registers temperatures in the zone of 53°F (11.7°C) to 73°F (22.8°C). Fall is the driest season of the year and the period of colors with leaves falling from the trees. The northern region receives up to 3" (76.2mm) of rainfall and is wetter than the south in the autumn. The orchards are full of apples and pumpkin patches, and corn mazes rule the roost. The harvest season brings plenty of fresh produce to the farmers' markets. September is prone to extended periods of fog, with visibility frequently limited to one-fourth of a mile in Ohio.
Weather in October
October is the driest month of the year in Ohio and that of peak fall foliage. The landscape attains beautiful colors, and the lake shorelines display brilliant hues of orange, crimson, yellow, and purple. Peak colors display throughout the state by the fourth week of October. It is the season of apple ciders and fall festivals as the harvest season rings in a bountiful of agricultural produce. The average high temperatures are in the range of a warm 62°F (16.7°C) to 72°F (22.2°C), while average low temperatures register between a cold 41°F (5°C) to 46°F (7.8°C) statewide. The moderate sunshine lasts for 6 hours, and the conditions alternate between warm and cold. Although the precipitation is low, an unusually cold year brings light snowfall. A jacket keeps the cold evening breezes at bay and the body warm. Nights are ideal for campfires and marshmallows. Take some time out of busy schedules to appreciate Mother Nature's beauty in October in Ohio.
Weather in November
November brings cold weather to Ohio with the fall season on its last legs. The foliage maintains its peak till the second week of the month, but the severe cold may suddenly see the leaves leaving the trees. The average high temperatures are between 49°F (9.4°C) to 60°F (15.6°C), while the average low temperatures are in the cold 33°F (0.6°C) to 37°F (2.8°C) range. Marietta in the south is between 34°F (1.1°C) to 55°F (12.8°C), while Youngstown in the north registers temperatures in the range of 34°F (1.1°C) to 49°F (9.4°C). The first snow generally arrives in November and registers up to 3" (76.2mm) in the north. The precipitation is light to the tune of 3" (76.2mm), and the autumn skies are cloudy in the areas near Lake Erie, with hardly 5 hours of daily sunshine. Consequently, fall is an excellent time for outdoor photography that captures the beauty of nature. November is ideal for budget travelers, with mild to cold conditions and discounted accommodations in much of Ohio.
Weather in December
December is cold in Ohio, with the average low temperatures in the freezing 22°F (-5.6°C) to 29°F (-1.7°C) range. The day temperatures also do not warm up much and remain in the cold 36°F (2.2°C) to 48°F (8.9°C) zone. Temperature variations depend a lot upon the altitude in the various parts of the state. The skies are gloomy for long periods as the sunlight lasts only for 3 to 4 hours during the day. Snowfall is significant in the north between 8" (203.2mm) to 10" (254mm), while the southern portion receives a light amount between 2" (50.8mm) to 4" (101.6mm). Wind speeds in excess of 15mph (24.1km/h) exacerbate the effect of the cold. The ground is occasionally white with shin-high snow making it difficult to move without proper footwear. Scraping icy windshields is a regular feature of the winter, and it makes sense to install a remote start in the vehicle to avoid the daily trouble. Winter coats, caps, and gloves step out of closets as the conditions become chilly in Ohio in December.