Salt Lake City is not one of those places where the weather stays constant (like lucky San Diego, for example), but it's not subject to many weather extremes like tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, or killer heat waves—at least not often. In fact, Salt Lake City's most prominent weather extreme is dryness, but extreme heat, cold, rain, snow, and wind are also possible.
If you're planning on visiting Salt Lake City any time of year, it's good to be prepared for all the possibilities—including extreme weather. While the city is usually covered in snow in the winter and summers are typically mild and dry, sudden fluctuations in the weather can put a damper on your vacation plans.
Historic Weather in Salt Lake City
While Salt Lake City isn't necessarily prone to extremely high or low temperatures any time of year, there have been some occasions in the past when the city got downright cold or oppressively hot. From a record-breaking temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit on July 13, 2002, to a low of 30 degrees below zero on February 9, 1933, these are the most extreme temperatures and rainfall totals in Salt Lake City history, organized by month:
- January: 63 F, January 31, 2003; -21.7 F, January 25, 1949; 3.23 inches, 1993
- February: 69 F, February 28, 1972; -30 F, February 9, 1933; 4.89 inches, 1998
- March: 80 F, March 31, 2012; 1.8 F, March 22, 1936; 3.97 inches, 1998
- April: 89 F, April 29, 2007; 14.2 F, April 2, 1936; 4.9 inches, 1944
- May: 99 F, May 28, 2003; 25.4 F, May 6, 1965; 4.76 inches, 1977
- June: 105 F, June 28 to 29, 2013; 34.8 F, June 7, 1962; 3.84 inches, 1998
- July: 107 F, July 13, 2002; 40 F, July 1, 1968; 2.57 inches, 1982
- August: 106.1 F, August 4, 1994; 36.6 F, August 31, 1965; 3.66 inches, 1968
- September: 100 F, September 8, 1979; 27 F, September 18, 1965; 7.04 inches, 1982
- October: 88.6 F, October 3, 1963; 16.1 F, October 30, 1971; 3.9 inches, 1981
- November: 75 F, November 6, 1999; -13.6 F, November 16, 1955; 3.34 inches, 2001
- December: 68.5 F, December 1, 1995; -21.4 F, December 13, 1932; 4.37 inches, 1983
Tornadoes, Drought, and Other Extreme Weather
As you can see from these extreme moments in Salt Lake City history, the region stays pretty dry even in the wettest seasons and rarely experiences harsh temperatures. However, there have been a few moments in the past that have been nearly catastrophic for the city, including an F2 tornado that swept through the metropolitan area, injuring more than 80 people and causing more than $170 million in damages on August 11, 1999.
Utah is not particularly prone to tornadoes because of its dry climate and mountainous geography. In fact, among U.S. states, Utah reports the fewest incidents of tornadoes, on average only seeing two per year. However, tornado season in the state starts in May and lasts through mid-August, when you're also likely to see large thunderstorms in the region. You should be cautious if you're visiting during this time of year even though the event of a tornado is unlikely to occur.
Salt Lake City is, however, prone to strong gusts of wind throughout the year as well as seasons of extreme drought or heavy snowfall:
- Strongest wind gust: 94 miles per hour, June 3, 1963
- Most precipitation in 24 hours: 2.41 inches, April 22 to 23, 1957
- Most precipitation in one year: 24.26 inches, 1983
- Least precipitation in one year: 8.7 inches, 1979
- Most snowfall in 24 hours: 18.4 inches, October 17 to 18, 1984
- Most snowfall in one month: 50.3 inches, 1993
- Most snowfall in one season: 117.3 inches, 1951 to 1952
- Least snowfall in one season: 16.6 inches, 1933 to 1934
Typical Weather in Salt Lake City
With hot, dry summers and frigid winters that start as early as September and can last as long as the first of May, Salt Lake City is considered to have something between a hot-summer humid continental climate and a humid subtropical climate. Its weather is influenced by both the lake effect of the Great Salt Lake, which brings considerable snowfall in the winter, and cross-continental air currents from the Pacific Ocean that bring storms to the region from October to May each year.
Salt Lake City experiences four distinct seasons. Summer is great for outdoor activities, with average highs peaking around 91 degrees Fahrenheit in July while winters are great for snow sports like skiing and snowboarding because average low temperatures bottom out at around 21 degrees Fahrenheit in January. The spring and fall, while wet, experience mild temperatures in the 50s through 70s, but both seasons are briefer than summer and winter.
Despite the occasional extreme weather in Salt Lake City, you can expect a fairly mild and pleasant climate most months of the year.
- January: 37 F high, 21 F low
- February: 43 F high, 25 F low
- March: 54 F high, 34 F low
- April: 61 F high, 39 F low
- May: 70 F high, 46 F low
- June: 82 F high, 55 F low
- July: 91 F high, 63 F low
- August: 90 F high, 63 F low
- September: 77 F high, 52 F low
- October: 64 F high, 41 F low
- November: 48 F high, 30 F low
- December: 37 F high, 23 F low