There are four distinct seasons in New York State and each one is enjoyable in its own way. Hot summers and snowy winters are ideal for those looking to experience classic North American seasons and autumn offers leaf-peeping with exploding colors. But if you don't enjoy cold temperatures, a winter trip to New York State should be avoided.
Winter is very cold, with lows in cities like Buffalo going below 20 degrees F (-7 degrees C) from December through February. Snow is common and most areas of the state will have at least one major snowstorm per winter, while the northern and western parts of the state will have many, especially in the mountainous areas of the Catskills and Adirondacks. Average annual snowfall in the state is 25.8 inches.
Spring is unpredictable, with some very cold days in March and snowfall still possible, and cold weather occurring into April. May is warmer, but cool days are still possible. Summer brings average highs in the low 80s Fahrenheit and an average humidity level of 72 percent for the suburbs of New York City, while further north and in the mountains it averages in the low 70s Fahrenheit. Humidity is also much lower in the mountains, providing a nice escape from NYC’s oppressive humidity. Fall brings gorgeous colors thanks to changing leaves and temperatures are mild, especially in September.
Fast Climate Facts
- Hottest Month: July (76 F / 24 C)
- Coldest Month: January (33 F / 1 C)
- Wettest Months: April, July, and August (4.5 inches)
- Best Month for Swimming: August (73 F / 23 C)
Popular Cities in New York State
New York City
New York City experiences all four seasons, with summer being extremely hot and humid, with average temperatures in July and August hitting highs in the lower 80s Fahrenheit and the concrete trapping the heat, making it feel even hotter. Spring and fall are mild and pleasant, with average temperatures in the 70s Fahrenheit, although they can be rainy. Winter can get quite cold, with below-freezing temperatures the norm and snow usually occurring a few times per season, although many days are still sunny. Winter also brings winds gusting between the city's skyscrapers—the average daily wind speed stays above 10 miles per hour most of the season.
New York State's capital usually has colder weather than New York City, since it is further north and close to the Catskill and Adirondack mountains. In the summer, this means cooler breezes, with temperatures averaging in the high 70s Fahrenheit, and the humidity is also lower. In winter, it can get quite cold, with lows dropping into the teens at night. Snow in winter is also quite common. Spring and fall are mild, with average temperatures in the high 60s Fahrenheit.
Further north and west, these cities near the Canadian border see some of New York State's coldest temperatures. Winter highs rarely get above freezing and the lows average in the teens. Buffalo also experiences intense wind gusts coming off of Niagara Falls. Because of their location, Rochester and Buffalo get large amounts of snowfall, with averages of more than 94 inches annually. Summer is milder than other parts of the state, only reaching averages highs of mid to low 70s Fahrenheit with lows in the 60s Fahrenheit. Fall and spring are mild, with fall bringing colorful foliage to the area.
The largest city, on Long Island, Hempstead sees average summer highs in the low 80s Fahrenheit and its beaches get a lot sunshine. Fall and spring can see temperatures as high as the 70s and as low as the 40s. Winter brings average daytime temperatures around freezing, with nighttime temperatures sometimes dropping to the teens. Snow is expected every winter and it also rains more often. But many days, even if they are cold, still remain sunny.
Summer in New York State
Summer in New York can get very hot, with heat waves possible, and high humidity. The mountains, however, are cooler, with lower humidity. The days are longer in summer, and nights can be cooler in the mountains and in the northern parts of the state. Thunderstorms and rain showers sometimes occur during this season.
Summer also brings outdoor events and festivals throughout the state, from live music to theater to food and wine festivals. Summer is one of the most popular times to visit New York State, especially the beaches of Long Island, as well as the Catskill and Adirondack mountains, and the Finger Lakes region, with water sports and hiking popular pastimes.
What to pack: Since it gets pretty hot, shorts, T-shirts, and dresses are necessary. If you’re headed to the shore or a lake, bring a bathing suit, sandals, sunscreen, and a hat. In the mountains, you’ll want a light jacket or sweatshirt and light pants for evenings and nighttime. If you plan on hiking, bring hiking boots or sneakers. Bring a raincoat and umbrella as well, just in case.
Fall in New York State
Expect gorgeous red, yellow, and orange leaves around late September and October; the further north you are the earlier the leaves will change. Early September is usually still hot, with temperatures dropping into the 60s Fahrenheit later in the month and into October. Although sometimes a surprise warm day will still occur in October and November, by the end of November the average temperatures drop into the low 50s and 40s Fahrenheit. Rain is also possible in the fall.
Outdoor events still occur into September and October and hiking is popular in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Adirondacks. The beaches of Long Island are still fairly full in September, although the ocean might be too cold for some. Early fall also means harvest season in the wine regions of Long Island, Hudson Valley, and the Finger Lakes, and apple picking season in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
What to pack: Layers are key in the fall; bring things like jeans, T-shirts, light jackets, and sweatshirts. And be prepared for possible rain with raincoats and umbrellas.
Winter in New York State
Temperatures really drop in the winter, with the mountains often well below freezing and the wind chill making it feel even colder. Snowfall is typical and the mountains especially will often have several snowstorms per season. The days get very short in winter, with the sun setting as early as 4:30 p.m.
Although winter is a less popular time to visit, there are holiday events, as well as skiing, sledding, and ice-skating. Lake Placid, where the Winter Olympics were twice held is a popular spot for winter sports.
What to pack: A warm coat and clothes like sweaters and warm pants, as well as winter gear like hats, scarves, and gloves. If you’re skiing or playing in the snow, you’ll want snow pants, too.
Spring in New York State
Spring is generally pleasant, although early spring can still be cold. It’s not uncommon to have a warm day followed by several colder days and then back to warm again. April is particularly rainy, and in March it could still snow.
May brings more sun and warmth, as well as some outdoor events and festivals, like Rochester’s famous Lilac Festival.
What to pack: With fluctuating temperatures, layers are best. Long and short-sleeved T-shirts, jeans, and light jackets are needed. Bring rain gear as well.