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North America Weather Overview

North America is where you will find the bright lights of Las Vegas, the ski slopes of Whistler, the white beaches of Cabo San Lucas  and the intriguing culture of Cuba. Spanning from the tip of icy Alaska right down to the sandy beaches of southern Mexico, North America has a lot of offer in terms of weather, not to mention landscape and culture.

ALASKA

In the very northwest you will find Alaska, the USA’s largest state by land mass. Purchased from the Russian Empire in the late 1800s for 2 cents a square metre, Alaska is currently one of the United States’ most racially diverse states, and also one of the wealthiest. The state was only recognised as USA’s 49th state in 1959, so it is a fairly new addition!

The climate of Alaska varies depending on proximity to the Arctic Circle. As you head further north it becomes sub arctic while to the southwest, towards the sea, it is oceanic.

JuneauAlaska’s capital city, lies in the South of the state, sharing a border to the east with British Columbia. The climate in the capital is oceanic, with an average high temperature in July of 18 °C and an average low temperature in January is -7 °C.

Anchorage is the largest city. It lies on the coast in south-central Alaska in a lowland area. While Anchorage is also kept considerably milder than other cities of similar longitude due to the sea, the climate is labelled sub arctic - primarily due to the presence of short, cool summers and longer, snow-filled winters. Average daily summer temperatures range from 13°C to 25°C before dropping down to average daytime winter temperatures of a cold -15°C to -1°C Celsius.

As you move away from the coast the weather becomes increasingly extreme. Because Central Alaska is not moderated by the seas, record temperature extremes have been recorded. The area sees temperature rise into the 30s in the summer months yet fall to a blistering -50 °C in the height of winter.

June 1915 saw Fort Yukon record an uncomfortable high of 38 °C, while in Prospect Creek in January 1971 the town suffered through an achingly cold -64 °C.

CANADA

Lying adjacent to Alaska is Canada, the world’s fourth largest country by land mass. Taking up 3,854,085 square miles, meeting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and spanning from the Arctic Circle down to the United States border, it is understandable as to why Canada witnesses significant climatic differences from northern arctic regions down to the south of Canada.

South-eastern Canada is made up of lowlands and plains while the western regions are studded with mountains.

On the west coast is the province of British Columbia, which in itself witnesses a range of weather conditions, a result of its mountainous interior and rugged coastline. In fact, 75% of BC’s land is mountainous, which means temperature extremes occur year round and snowfall is high in winter making it a very popular destination for ski and snowboard enthusiasts.

BC’s capital is the city of Victoria which lies on the picturesque Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island’s climate varies from Mediterranean to temperate marine. Victoria sits in the north of Vancouver Island and is a year-round tourist destination. With almost 4 million visitors annually, Victoria’s tourism business accounts for one billion dollars annually of the local economy. Victoria‘s climate is moderated by the nearby waters, making conditions pretty mild year round. Occasionally, during summer, the mercury will rise over 30°C, but only on a few days in the height of summer. In the depths of winter the thermometer may see lows of -5°C. However, this again only occurs a few times throughout the season. Winter generally sees daily maximums of about 7°C to 8°C, while summer sees maximums of about 18°C to 20°C. Rainfall in Victoria is at its highest in the winter months and snowfall is very minimal. Victoria averages only 2 to 3 days annually with at least 5 cm of snow. Victoria boasts the title of one of the sunniest places in the province - a result of a rain shadow which sees Victoria basking in 2,223 hours of sunlight annually.

The climate across Canada varies depending on proximity to the coast and the presence of mountain ranges. The East and west coasts see average highs of about 22°C to 24°C, while inland Canada witnesses highs in the late 20’s and occasionally in the 30’s. In the interior the mercury has been known to rise into the 40’s on the very odd occasion during heat waves. On the flipside winters in the interior are very harsh, with snow covering the ground for up to 6 months of the year and the temperatures falling to extreme lows of -30°C to -40°C. 

See the weather averages for TorontoVancouver Ottawa and Quebec to get an idea of what the overall climate is like in Canada.

 USA

Lying south of Canada and above Mexico, with Pacific Ocean on the West, the Atlantic on the East and the Gulf of Mexico to the south The United States of America covers 10 million square kilometres and is home to over 300 million people. 

USA plays host to basically every climatic variation under the sun. Depending on proximity to the coast and altitude, you may find yourself on a snow-capped mountain, a desert or a pine forest.

On the southwest coast of California, conditions are Mediterranean with long warm to hot summers and shorter mild winters. San Diego, in the south of California, has a very enjoyable climate year round - one that is very similar to the southwest coast of Australia. The climate here is Mediterranean verging on subtropical. San Diego enjoys dry summers that begin in late May and continue right through until September with average monthly temperatures throughout the season of about 22°C.

In this part of southern California it is not uncommon to see the mercury rise over 30°C in the midst of summer, though you won’t have to sit in the heat for too long as the beautiful Californian beaches are nearby and the evenings are cooled by the famous Santa Ana winds.

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