Like much of the Midwest, Columbus, Ohio enjoys four distinctive seasons, appealing to visitors who enjoy a variety of outdoor activities and recreation all year long. Summers can be hot and humid and winters snowy and cold with milder temps in the spring and the fall depending on the direction of the jet streams. Northerly winds blow up warmer, wetter air from the Gulf of Mexico, while southern streams can bring down chilly Arctic air from Canada.
Not surprisingly, summer is the most appealing time of year for many Columbus visitors. Temperatures average in the low to mid-70s Fahrenheit (23 degrees C) and there are lots of sunny days, although humidity can stray into downright steamy at times pending occasional thunderstorms. In the winter, average temps in the low 30s Fahrenheit (0 degrees C) merit warm coats, scarves, and gloves. Fresh dustings of snow evoke a winter wonderland feeling, but can quickly create icy road conditions and the freeze-thaw cycles are a major cause of potholes and road damage. Spring and fall strike a pleasant balance with moderate temperatures, blooming vegetation, and colorful foliage respectively.
Located in the Eastern U.S. time zone, Columbus lies on a nearly 40-degree latitude line and follows Daylight Savings Time. The days are shortest in December and longest in June.
Fast Climate Facts
- Hottest Month: July (75 degrees F/24 degrees C)
- Coldest Month: January (30 degrees F/-1 degree C)
- Wettest Month: July (2.6 inches of precipitation)
- Windiest Month: January (8 mph)
- Best Month for Swimming: July (75 degrees F / 24 degrees C)
Tornado Season in Columbus
Tornadoes can occur any month of the year, but April through July is the highest risk period for severe storms in Ohio and much of the Midwest. The National Weather Service carefully monitors conditions and issues warnings accordingly to give residents and visitors as much time as possible to prepare for any approaching bad weather.
A tornado watch means weather conditions are conducive to tornado development. A tornado warning indicates that a tornado has actually been spotted or is imminent and everyone in the area should take shelter until the threat has passed. Always heed all issued warnings and be prepared for possible power outages. Basements, underground shelters, and windowless rooms in the middle section of a building are the safest places to be during a tornado.
Summer in Columbus
June, July, and August in Columbus are warm and pleasant, however, weather can swing from hot and humid to stormy with little warning. Even so, it’s usually easy to find a stretch of days for swimming, outdoor recreation, festivals, and concerts. Columbus is home to plenty of bike trails and public green spaces, especially along the Scioto Mile that runs through downtown.
The sultry summer days and nights also create ideal opportunities to picnic in Goodale Park, shop at the open-air Easton Town Center and enjoy al fresco dining in the charming German Village neighborhood.
What to pack: Bring sundresses and light layers for hot days along with a jacket or wrap for cooler evenings. Don’t forget a swimsuit and sunscreen, and it never hurts to throw in an umbrella in case of pop-up storms.
Average High and Low Temperatures by Month
- June: 82 F / 62 F (28 C / 17 C)
- July: 85 F / 66 F (29 C / 19 C)
- August: 84 F / 64 F (29 C / 18 C)
Fall in Columbus
In the Midwest, summer segues into fall in fits and starts, which can mean shorts and dresses one day, long pants and jackets the next. Bursts of hot temperatures can last into early November, and it’s unusual, but not unheard of for the first snowfall to occur as early as October.
Football games and tailgating at the Ohio State University call for jeans, hoodies, and hats, as do Halloween trick or treating, apple orchard visits, hayrides, and hikes through Hocking Hills State Park to admire the spectacular fall foliage.
What to pack: Since temperatures can swing through the fall from summer-like to downright cold, it pays to keep tabs on the forecast right up to the last minute to make the most appropriate packing decisions.
Average Temperatures by Month
- September: 77 F / 56 F (25 C / 13 C)
- October: 65 F / 44 F (18C / 7 C)
- November: 53 F / 35 F (12 C / 2 C)
Winter in Columbus
Winters are cold in Columbus, with snowfalls reaching their highest average accumulations in January. Chilly temps need not be a deterrent to winter fun, though, and there’s plenty of incentive to get outside with annual holiday activities at attractions all over town in addition to sledding and ice skating opportunities.
Those who prefer to stay warm indoors can check out local museums, theater performances and cheer on the home team Blue Jackets during NHL games at Nationwide Arena.
What to pack: Temps can reach into the 40s Fahrenheit (4 to 9 degrees C), but it’s safe to assume most days and nights will hover at or below freezing. Bundle up for the weather with sweaters, long pants, winter coats, gloves, boots, and hats.
Average Temperatures by Month
- December: 41 F / 27 F (5 C / -3 C)
- January: 37 F / 23 F (3 C / -5 C)
- February: 40 F / 24 F (4 C / -4 C)
Spring in Columbus
The second temperatures start to warm up, Columbus residents emerge from their cozy winter cocoons to browse the Short North Arts District boutiques in search of the latest seasonal fashions and enjoy tasty locally sourced lunches at North Market or an area farmers market.
Foot and bike traffic picks up at the city’s outstanding collection of Metro Parks, and outdoor festivals bloom right along with the daffodils and tulips, making this the perfect time to pay a visit to the verdant Franklin Park Conservatory.
What to pack: Ambitious types break out the shorts and T-shirts the second temperatures rise above 60 degrees F (15.5 degrees C), but it’s a safer bet to plan on long pants, layered tops, and a light jacket. April showers are a thing; pack rain gear and an umbrella.
Average Temperatures by Month
- March: 51 F / 32 F (10.5 C / 0 C)
- April: 64 F / 42 F (1 C / 5.5 C)
- May: 74 F / 53 F (23 C / 12 C)
Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours
|Avg. Temp.||Rainfall||Daylight Hours|
|January||30 F (-1 C)||1.6 inches||9 hours|
|February||32 F (0 C)||1.4 inches||10 hours|
|March||42 F (5.5 C)||1.9 inches||11.5 hours|
|April||53 F (12 C)||2.3 inches||13 hours|
|May||63 F (17 C)||2.1 inches||14 hours|
|June||72 F (22 C)||2.3 inches||14.5 hours|
|July||75 F (24 C)||2.6 inches||14 hours|
|August||74 F (23 C)||1.6 inches||13 hours|
|September||67 F (19 C)||1.4 inches||12 hours|
|October||54 F (12 C)||1.3 inches||11 hours|
|November||44 F (7 C)||1.5 inches||9.5 hours|
|December||34 F (1 C)||1.8 inches||9 hours|
Time and Date. "Climate and Weather Averages in Columbus, Ohio." December 2020.
Cleveland.com. "When is tornado season in Ohio? Anytime, but mostly these 3 months." December 2020.
Weather-us. "Monthly weather forecast and climate Columbus, OH." December 2020.