Weather in Palm Springs: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperature

Welcome to Palm Springs
©Betsy Malloy Photography

Palm Springs is a posh playground of verdant golf courses, crystalline pools, blue skies, and amethyst sunsets over striking mountains. It’s also smack dab in the middle of a desert and as such it suffers from punishing fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk kind of heat in summer (and often late spring and early fall) and some of the world’s most pleasant winters and springs (hence Thanksgiving through spring break being high season). The optimal time to visit the greater Palm Springs area in terms of climate is November through April unless you’re the rare bird who likes it hot and greatly prioritizes budget over comfort.

Also due to the location, visitors can expect more than 300 days of sunshine a year, less than 6 inches of rain annually, an arid dry atmosphere (always travel with water), and drastic temperature drops at night. Differences of 25 degrees between afternoon and late evening are not unheard of once the sun goes down. You should also expect a substantial contrast in climates and temperatures between downtown and up at the top of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car, takes riders up the Chino Canyon cliffs to 8,516 feet above sea level and an alpine wonderland with an entirely different climate zone.

This guide aims to educate hopeful travelers on the weather and climate basics for Palm Springs and the surrounding cities in the Coachella Valley including Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and La Quinta. 

Fast Climate Facts

• Hottest Month: July (108 degrees Fahrenheit/ 42.2 degrees Celsius) 

• Coldest Month: December (44 degrees Fahrenheit/ 6.7 degrees Celsius)

• Wettest Month: February [1.20 inches]

• Driest Month: June (.02 inches of rain)

• Sunniest Month: November (75 percent)

• Windiest Month: April (7 mph)

Sandstorms

Palm Springs Windmills During a Dust Storm
 Stephanie Sawyer/Moment

Acres of electricity-generating towering metal fans outside the city should be a giant hint at another factor to consider when planning. It can get very windy in these parts, particularly from April through June, where the average wind speed is seven or eight miles per hour. It can send enough sand swirling to affect visibility and breathing. 

It can also turn into a full-fledged dust/sand storm. When high-pressure systems come over the pass from the coast and collide with the valley’s normal low-pressure, winds speed up, reaching up to 60 miles per hour, and sometimes deposit large piles of sand on streets that require the services of a sand plow to reopen. Haboobs, a wall of dust generated by a microburst pushed forward by the front of a thunderstorm cell, are rarer but do happen. They most commonly occur in July and August. Learn more about haboobs and how to stay safe in them here.

Winter in Palm Springs

PS Aerial Tram
Courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs 

Those who hail from locales that regularly face sleet and snow will have a proper laugh about what the greater Palm Springs area labels winter, usually just before they take a swing on a golf course on a 70-degree day. The likelihood of rain is the greatest December through February, but it rarely drops more than two inches a month. 

What to pack: With a jacket or sweater, visitors can still walk home to the hotel from dinner most nights as it typically stays in the mid- to high-forties range. You should also still pack a swimsuit and sunscreen as many accommodation options have hot tubs and heated pools and the area is known for hot springs. If you plan to take the Aerial Tramway up the mountain and traipse around the 50 miles of trails, gloves and beanies are recommended. Snow gear might even be in order at that elevation.

Average Temperatures by Month

December: 69 F (20.5 C) / 44 F (6.6 C)

January: 71 F (21.6 C) / 45 F (7.2 C)

February: 74 F (23.3. C) / 48 F (8.8 C)

Spring in Palm Springs

Palm Springs wildflowers
Courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs

Late winter/early spring is the high season and prices reflect the increased desire to visit. The chance of rain dials way down while the mercury starts to climb into the ‘80s and ‘90s. By mid-May, it might as well be summer. Wildflowers return to color the desert. So do the festivalgoers as Coachella and Stagecoach commonly occur during these months. (if you aren't coming for a festival, avoid those weekends as hotel rooms and house rentals can easily ask double and triple their top-end rates.) Listen for and pay attention to blowing dust advisories and sand storm warnings as wind speeds often increase April through June.

What to pack: Exercise gear and hiking boots to explore canyons, mountain trails, and the nearby Joshua Tree National Park as this is the best time of the year to opt outside. Flower crowns and leotards for Coachella; cowboy boots and hats for Stagecoach. But with chilly mornings and nightly temps plummeting into the low 50s and 60s, don’t forget to also toss a few fleeces or light jackets into your suitcase.

Average Temperatures by Month

March: 80 F (26.6 C) / 52 F (11.1 C)

April: 88 F (31.1 C) / 57 F (13.8 C)

May: 96 F (35.5 C) / 64 F (17.7 C)

Summer in Palm Springs

Miramonte pool
Courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs 

Probably goes without saying, but this is a desert and thus summer is brutally hot with temperatures commonly soaring into low triple digits and an average of 13-14.4 hours of daylight every day. You’ll still see a significant drop in temperatures at night. Usually hovering in the seventies, it’s the perfect setting for night swimming. If you can take the heat, you can score great deals at hotels and rentals during these months. Crowds at attractions and restaurants are far smaller then as well. As people are fond of saying throughout Southern California, "At least, it’s a dry heat." 

That is, except when the occasional rainstorm swoops in. Technically, July and August are categorized as monsoon season and, even though they average less than half an inch of rain between them, the drops can come so fast and furious that flash floods are a real concern. It can become muggy in these conditions as well.

What to pack: Pool floats, books, hats, sunglasses, cooling neck wraps, hand fans, high-SPF sunscreen, and anything else you need to kick it by the pool. Misters are commonplace all over the valley so if you have hair that reacts badly to moisture, load up on anti-frizz hair products. Also helpful is a makeup-setting spray.

Average Temperatures by Month

June: 104 F (40 C) / 71 F (21.7 C)

July: 108 F (42.2 C) / 78 F (25.5 C)

August: 107 F (41.6 C) / 78 F (25.5 C)

Fall in Palm Springs

Bright Sun in Palm Springs
 Katie Ballis/Image Source

September and October remain sunny, hot, and clear with temperatures still peaking in the nineties and hundreds. It’s basically summer part two until November, which itself will still feel like summer in mountain towns and coastal enclaves.

What to pack: Shorts and swimsuits are still daytime necessities while you’ll want linen pants, jumpsuits, and sundresses for brunch or dinners on the many patios and rooftops around town. Layering is the best strategy when you head out for morning hikes or sunset cocktails.

Average Temperatures by Month

September: 102 F (38.8 C) / 72 F (22.2 C)

October: 91 F (32.7 C) / 62 F (16.6 C)

November: 79 F (26.1 C) / 52 F (11.1 C)

Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours

Scorching hot summers, temperate winter days, drastic post-sunset temperature drops, minimal rainfall, and almost zero annual humidity is Palm Springs’ weather in a nutshell. Here's what to expect in terms of average temperature (Fahrenheit), inches of rain, and daylight hours throughout the year.

• January: 71 degrees; 1.16 inches; 10.2 hours

• February: 74 degrees; 1.20 inches; 11 hours

• March: 80 degrees; .49 inches; 12 hours

• April: 88 degrees; .05 inches; 13.1 hours

• May: 96 degrees; .02 inches; 13.9 hours

• June: 104 degrees; .02 inches; 14.4 hours

• July: 108 degrees; .14 inches; 14.1 hours

• August: 107 degrees; .29 inches; 13.4 hours

• September: 102 degrees; .22 inches; 12.4 hours

• October: 91 degrees; .20 inches; 11.3 hours

• November: 79 degrees; .38 inches; 10.4 hours

• December: 69 Degrees; .70 inches; 9.9 hours

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