Back to Lecture Menu
North America's climate is temperate and can be generalized in the following manner:
The further north one travels in North America, the colder it gets. The further south one travels, the warmer it gets (it doesn't take a genius to figure out this much). The further east one travels, the wetter it gets. The further west one travels, the drier it gets.
DRIER - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - WETTER
Therefore, on a map of North America, one would expect to find these climatic combinations in certain locations. For instance, Florida-- SE-- would be classified as warm and wet. If you know anything about Florida, you know that they have sub-tropical temperatures there and they get lots of thunderstorms. Arizona and parts of southern California-- SW-- experience warm and dry weather. New England and the maritime provinces of Canada--NE-- experience cold and wet climates while the areas just inland from the Pacific Ocean--NW-- experience cold and dry weather for much of the year.
SW = warmer and drier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SE = warmer and wetter
This is a climatic model and it should be noted that not every model is perfect. There are always exceptions to the rule. Perhaps some of you were already thinking of exceptions to this model as you were reading through it. Good job.
The main exception to this model is along the Pacific coast of North America where orographic precipitation takes place along the Sierra-Nevada, Cascade and Canadian Rocky Mountains. There is a small strip of land along this coast that is actually classified as "rainforest". It is not a tropical rainforest, but a temperate rainforest. Sequoias, redwoods and giant Douglas firs can grow in these forests.
Other exceptions to this model are on a much smaller scale and are too numerous to list here. Just keep in mind that they do exist while you utilize this climatic model. Proximity to mountains and/or large bodies of water are the most common reasons for these exceptions (e.g. the Great Lakes).
Remember, the coldest temperatures in North America are often recorded in North Dakota , Minnesota and Manitoba because those are the areas furthest from the oceans. These same locations can also experience summertime temperatures well over 100 degrees F.
orAdvance to Next Topic