North Dakota’s location at the extreme northern end of the Midwest creates a wide range of weather with four very distinct seasons. The western half of the state tends to be drier than the east, but the entire state shares similar annual temperatures. Winters are very cold and windy in North Dakota, with temperatures rarely breaking the freezing barrier between December and February. Nights get very cold in winter, with some shocking record lows like -60°F. Between 26 and 38 inches of snow falls each winter around the state, though occasionally it can be freezing rain or sleet.
Springtime in North Dakota is the most mercurial season, with rapid unpredictable swings in temperature and weather on a daily basis. Daytime highs are still chilly right through May, with occasional snow storms and even tornadoes. The Red River Valley frequently gets heavy flooding from snow runoff from Canada during the early spring months.
Summers are reasonably hot, with more humidity in the eastern half than the west. Temperatures average between the upper 70’s (°F) and mid-80’s (°F) depending on the part of the state. Thunderstorms are frequent, sometimes even spawning tornadoes between June and August. The fall months bring pleasant temperatures but lots of wind as the climate shifts back toward winter weather.
Best Time to Visit North Dakota
The summers are certainly the best time of year to visit North Dakota if you want to enjoy any of the outdoor recreation. From late May through October the state is at its finest, with the prairies changing from green to yellow over the months and the temperatures a very pleasant 80°F or so. Summer is the busiest season here, so popular destinations typically get crowded by North Dakota standards. If you want to find a deal on hotels simply plan a trip between the late fall and late spring. There are few tourists brave enough to venture into this state during the harsh winter.