Weather in New Orleans: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperature

weather and climate in new orleans

 

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New Orleans is known for its water, found both in the lake, river, and nearby Gulf of Mexico that define its parameters, as well as often falling from the skies above. So no matter what time of year you decide to visit this vibrant city, bring an umbrella – and maybe some rain boots, too. For the Big Easy averages over four inches of rain every month (except October, which still gets over three inches), and in many months that number goes to five and even six inches.

That's not to say that New Orleans doesn't have plenty of sunny, warm (and even hot) days throughout the year. In fact, the common weather saying in NOLA is, "Wait ten minutes and the weather will change!" But that change is generally from dry to wet, and sometimes from warm to chilly; however, you're not likely to encounter snow in this Southern city.

There are usually only a few days in a year that the temperature drops to freezing, and you are more likely to encounter highs ranging from 61 degrees Fahrenheit/17 degrees Celsius in January to 91 degrees Fahrenheit/33 degrees Celsius in August. Over the course of a year, the high temperature averages 78 degrees Fahrenheit/26 degrees Celsius, so expect to be warm most of the time here.

Be prepared to be a bit sweaty, too, as New Orleans is a place where humidity reigns much of the year. The average relative humidity (which is the measurement of the actual amount of moisture in the air, counted against the maximum amount of moisture the air can hold) sits at 76 percent, which means it often feels a bit muggy in the city. New Orleans is actually ranked as the American city with the highest relative humidity.

The most temperate months in NOLA are February, March, April, and October, with May and October being the times when the sun shines the most. Hurricane season goes from June to November, with the city experiencing an average of one hurricane every three years (since 1851), which means it isn't all that likely that one will hit during your vacation. But if it does, expect high winds, tornados, and flooding across the city; flooding is something that happens during heavy rainstorms anyway, so if you notice large puddles forming where your car is parked, it is a very good idea to move it to higher ground.

Fast Climate Facts:

  • Hottest Month: August (91 degrees Fahrenheit/33 degrees Celsius)
  • Coldest Month: January (62 degrees Fahrenheit/17 degrees Celsius)
  • Wettest Month: June (6.83 inches)
  • Driest Month: October (3.05 inches)
  • Most Humid Month: August (79.4 percent)
  • Least Humid Month: March (72.9 percent)
  • Hurricane Months: June 1 through November 30

Spring in New Orleans

Spring is a beautiful time to visit New Orleans, as the months of March, April, and May are usually less rainy and less humid than other times of the year. Temperatures are balmy and warm, and neighborhoods like the French Quarter, City Park, Audubon Park, and the Garden District explode with colorful flowers and other greenery. It's also the time for annual outdoor music festivals including the French Quarter Fest (April), the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (late April, early May), and the Bayou Boogaloo (May), which are often graced with gorgeous weather. Spring is also crawfish season, so expect to indulge in crawfish boils all season long.

What to pack: Light, breathable layers are always a good bet in New Orleans, especially in the spring, when the evenings can turn a bit chilly and a sweater is appreciated. Raincoats, umbrellas, and mud boots should be in your luggage, too, especially if you're attending Jazz Fest, for once it rains on the large racetrack where the fest takes place, it can turn into a bog, even if the sun returns. You'll be glad you have rubber boots.

Average Temperatures by Month:

  • March: 72 degrees F (22 C) / 54 degrees F (12 C)
  • April: 78 degrees F (26 C) / 60 degrees F (16 C)
  • May: 85 degrees F (30 C) / 68 degrees F (20 C)

Summer in New Orleans

Summer is hot and steamy in New Orleans, a time when the heat shimmers off the sidewalk and the humidity can be brutal. Most New Orleaneans seek indoor shelter in air conditioning, except in the early morning or late night hours. But even in those times, it can still be unbearably hot. Rain happens often and tropical storms can lash the city as well. And all the biting bugs (mosquitoes, no-see-ums, etc.) are out in force, too, making summer the least appealing time for a visit to the Big Easy.

What to pack: Light dresses, shorts, cotton shirts, and sandals are the uniform of the locals during the summer months. It doesn't even get cool in the evenings, so no jackets or sweaters are needed when outdoors. But pack something to keep warm inside, for everywhere you go in this city, the air conditioning in the summer months is set to Arctic temperatures.

Average Temperatures by Month:

  • June: 90 degrees F (32 C) / 74 degrees F (23 C)
  • July: 91 degrees F (33 C) / 75 degrees F (24 C)
  • August: 91 degrees F (33 C) / 75 degrees F (24 C)

Fall in New Orleans

While many places in the United States begin to cool off as fall arrives, New Orleans doesn't really feel even a hint of chill until November. September remains a very hot and humid month in the city, but October is the ideal time to visit, with less rainfall than any other time in the year and comfortable temperatures paired with lower humidity. And Halloween is a time when this city that loves to play dress-up blossoms, in conjunction with the annual Voodoo Music + Arts Experience that happens every year over Halloween weekend.

What to pack: September is still like summer, so pack accordingly. Once October and November arrive, however, long pants and jackets should be included in your suitcase, and even some socks and gloves, especially for nights spent out on the town. And costumes and wigs are a must-have for the Halloween festivities that spread through the French Quarter, the Marigny, and all across the city for a weekend or more (depending on when October 31 actually occurs).

Average Temperatures by Month:

  • September: 88 degrees F (31 C) / 72 degrees F (22 C)
  • October: 80 degrees F (27 C) / 63 degrees F (17 C)
  • November: 72 degrees F (22 C) / 54 degrees F (12 C)

Winter in New Orleans

Winter in New Orleans can be slightly unpredictable, with one day being chilly and overcast and the next bright, sunny, and warm. But in general, the months that encompass the Christmas, New Year's, and Mardi Gras holiday season in this predominantly Catholic city are on the cool side. Rain is always a possibility at any time of year here, but in the winter months it can even turn into sleet on occasion. So be prepared for possible inclement and cold weather, but know that it can change into a summer-like day in the blink of an eye.

What to pack: Warm clothes, a heavy coat, hat, and gloves should be part of your winter wardrobe in New Orleans, along with rain gear. But because the weather is especially mutable at this time of year here, add in some lighter layers just in case it suddenly turns into an 80-degree (Fahrenheit) day. And if you are visiting during the Mardi Gras season, which goes from January 6 (Three Kings Day) to Ash Wednesday (40 days before Easter Sunday), be sure to pack at least one costume and some funny wigs or hats, and even a ball gown or tuxedo. For without those, you'll miss out on the fun that engulfs New Orleans during the swirl that defines this season of formal balls and costume parties, all culminating in a massive (think thousands of people) costumed promenade through the French Quarter and the Marigny on Fat Tuesday.

Average Temperatures by Month:

  • December: 64 degrees F (47 C) / 18 degrees F (8 C)
  • January: 62 degrees F (45 C) / 17 degrees F (7 C)
  • February: 65 degrees F (48 C) / 19 degrees F (9 C)

Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours

  • January: 5.87 inches rainfall; 62 degrees F; 10 hours of daylight
  • February: 5.47 inches rainfall; 65 degrees F; 11 hours of daylight
  • March: 5.24 inches rainfall; 72 degrees F; 12 hours of daylight
  • April: 5.02 inches rainfall; 78 degrees F; 13 hours of daylight
  • May: 4.62 inches rainfall; 85 degrees F; 14 hours of daylight
  • June: 6.83 inches rainfall; 90 degrees F; 14 hours of daylight
  • July: 6.20 inches rainfall; 91 degrees F; 14 hours of daylight
  • August: 6.15 inches rainfall; 91 degrees F; 13 hours of daylight
  • September: 5.55 inches rainfall; 88 degrees F; 12 hours of daylight
  • October: 3.05 inches rainfall; 80 degrees F; 11 hours of daylight
  • November: 5.09 inches rainfall; 72 degrees F; 11 hours of daylight
  • December: 5.07 inches rainfall; 64 degrees F; 10 hours of daylight
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