Climate of the South Central US

Climate is a description of the average temperature, range of temperature, humidity, precipitation, and other atmospheric/hydrospheric conditions a region experiences over a period of many years. These factors interact with and are influenced by other parts of the Earth system, including geology, geography, insolation, currents, and living things.

Because it is founded on statistics, climate can be a difficult concept to grasp, yet concrete examples can be illuminating. Terms like “desert,” “rain forest,” and “tundra” describe climates, and we have gained a general understanding of their meaning. Climate can also encompass the cyclical variations a region experiences; a region with a small temperature variation between winter and summer—San Francisco, for example—has a different climate from one that has a large variation, such as Buffalo. Scientists have settled on 30 years as the shortest amount of time over which climate can be defined, but it can of course also define time periods millions of years in length.

You cannot go outside and observe climate. Weather, on the other hand, can be observed instantly—it is 57 degrees and raining right now. Weather varies with the time of day, the season, multi-year cycles, etc., while climate encompasses those variations. Our choice of clothing in the morning is based on the weather, while the wardrobe in our closet is a reflection of climate. Residents of the South Central have a diverse wardrobe. While the entire area experiences seasonal change, the greatest variation occurs in the north, so those living in the interior states have a greater need for warm winter clothes than do those who live along the coast.