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Arches National Park, Utah

USA

Vast landscapes and grand sights

When to visit the USA

Introduction

The USA is huge and therefore massive variations in the weather occur, dependent on where and when you visit.

The northeast experiences a similar climate to the UK, with a distinct winter, spring, summer and autumn. Temperatures can be more extreme however - New York can experience long periods of heavy snowfall in winter and baking hot summers - and rainfall in the far northeast is markedly low. The southeast is more tropical, meaning dry and warm winters and humid summers. The hurricane season lasts between June and late-November.

Much of the southwest is hot and dry - Nevada, which lies in the rain shadow of the Californian ranges, is the driest state in the US and experiences huge variations in temperatures with the hottest summer days reaching 50°C plus. Coastal California experiences an almost Mediterranean style climate and is hotter the further south you travel. In Seattle, near the Canadian border, the reputation for rain is not unfounded, though the locals are keen to note that it 'keeps the Californians away'.

California

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California, generally speaking, is known for its excellent weather. Hot summers and a lack of humidity make for a busy high season in coastal areas while deserts become stifling. Autumn is always a good choice as crowds die down and good weather prevails as, with winter, comes a sprinkling of rain and the deserts’ best weather.

Daily max temp (Jun)
19.6℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
4mm

New England

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Talk to anyone and they’ll tell you the best time to go to New England is late September through to early October when the region’s foliage puts on its stunning display. However, with so many outdoor pursuits, summer is also an excellent choice. Cold winters usually bring snowfall, which, while attractive, sometimes escalate to storms.

Daily max temp (Jun)
25.2℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
84mm

USA's National Parks

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Many make the canyon pilgrimage in summer, when schools are out and the sun is at its fiercest. However, with frosty winters, enjoy temperate climes from March to May and September to November when crowds start thinning out. Placed apart, check individual forecasts for each park. The domed spires of Bryce Canyon, for example, receive a wintery dusting of snow due to their high elevation.

Daily max temp (Jun)
36.5℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
2mm

New York

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In the city, summers are scorching affairs as New Yorkers flee to the sunny, but more temperate, disposition of upstate New York. In the winter, while ski resorts open up throughout the region, both New York City and the state as a whole plummet in temperature. The best times to go, then, are spring and autumn. The latter’s foliage is well worth seeing, perhaps even rivalling that of its more famous neighbour, New England.

Daily max temp (Jun)
26.4℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
90mm

Deep South

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Spring (Apr to Jun) and Autumn (Sep and Oct) are the best times to visit the Deep South and the Carolinas. Days are warm, nights are cool and you’ll avoid the hot, humid conditions of summer. On the coast, June to September can see heavy rain and the occasional hurricane, while winters, especially in the north, can be cold. Mardi Gras, which takes place in New Orleans each February, can be very busy so you’ll need to book well in advance.

Daily max temp (Jun)
31.9℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
139mm

The West

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The coastal weather of California is superlative in summer, with a total lack of humidity and a fresh ocean breeze resulting in an all-day-all-night feel good vibe. Similarly for Texas, the beaches are pleasant, but in land the air becomes hot and thick throughout those summer months. Travel just before or after summer around Texas to enjoy a more comfortable climate. Come winter, Texas can become noticeably cold, while The West's deserts come into a life of their own, thanks to relatively temperate conditions.

Daily max temp (Jun)
33.2℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
90mm

Rockies & Great Plains

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Summer is busy season for America’s national parks with school holidays and favourable hiking weather. Consider delaying your trip for the autumn (or bringing it forward for spring) when weather is still temperate but there are half the crowds. In winter, while snow-dusted peaks and pines make for stunning photography, don’t underestimate the unpredictability of alpine America’s weather with temperatures often dropping well below freezing.

Daily max temp (Jun)
27.3℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
47mm

Florida

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While south Florida suffers from intense heat and humidity during the summer, the crowds head north to Orlando and its myriad family attractions. However, in winter, although temperatures in the north remain comfortable, most visitors head to the warmth of Miami and the Florida Keys. For good deals, favourable weather and shorter queuing times at the ever-popular theme parks, the pre and post- summer shoulder seasons are well worth consideration.

Daily max temp (Jun)
30.4℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
196mm

Alaska

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With snowmobiling, dog-sledding and Northern Lights viewing in winter and hiking and wildlife watching in spring, summer and autumn, there's no bad time to visit Alaska. If you're not keen on the cold, however, stick to either the peak months of June, July and August or the shoulder season months of May and September. From October onwards, the temperature plummets and the coastal areas can see plenty of rainfall.

Daily max temp (Jun)
16.3℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
101mm

Great Lakes

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With the Great Lakes region sharing its northern borders with Canada, winters are unsurprisingly cold affairs. Temperatures plummet and there are plenty of opportunities to try winter sports. In contrast, summer can reach highs of 30° meaning beer gardens open up and city folk head to the beaches to cool off. For quieter crowds, along with a temperate climate, autumn and spring are both worthy of consideration.

Daily max temp (Jun)
26.5℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
98mm

Pacific Northwest

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Summer is considered the best time to travel to the Paci c Northwest with temperate weather and clear skies even in the mountain ranges. While the region is known for its rains in the colder months, especially in Seattle, these are most prevalent in the west as the Cascades Range blocks moisture headed inland from the Paci c. Expect cold winters that are sometimes blighted by storms that render certain remote areas impassable.

Daily max temp (Jun)
20.7℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
39mm

Capital Region

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In spring, the stoic architecture of Washington, D.C. is overcome by the soft pinks of cherry blossom as the city hosts multiple festivals. In summer, the east coast beaches of Virginia and Maryland are popular while the capital heats up just a touch too much. Winter temperatures dip below freezing while temperate autumn brings fiery colours to the region’s national parks.

Daily max temp (Jun)
29℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
89mm

Texas

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The Texan summer, while prime time for beaches, lakes and rivers, is stiflingly hot as air conditioning is cranked up. Either side of this high season, however, has more temperate conditions making it an ideal time to travel with fairs, including rodeos, still open. In the winter season, south Texas can be surprisingly chilly while the north occasionally freezes over.

Daily max temp (Jun)
33.2℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
90mm

Hawaii

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Hawaii generally enjoys excellent weather throughout the year. In summer, temperatures rarely exceed 32°C while, in winter, the lowest you’ll see is 18°C although you’re more likely to experience something averaging in the mid twenties. The busy seasons are during the peak holiday periods of December, April and June to August. The winter (November to March) experiences some rainfall, although rain is possible at any time.

Daily max temp (Jun)
29.4℃

Monthly rainfall (Jun)
26mm

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