USA: Great Plains

North America

About The Great Plains

Sara and John say...

Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wyoming:

Between the Rio Grande to the south, the Rocky Mountains in the west and the Appalachian Mountains further to the east, lay the Great Plains of the USA. Extremely cold and dry winters and warm summers punctuated by thunderstorms typify the weather across the vast landscape. Late spring also brings deadly weather across tornado alley in the southeast of this region across Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and South Dakota, and further afield into Texas, Louisiana and Iowa.

The winter can be harsh across the Great Plains, with high winds and temperatures down to -15ºC. It is dry, with some states averaging just a handful of “wet” days, and what does appear falls as snow. Because of the vastness of this area, sightseeing visits in the harsh winter aren’t recommended.

Things don’t start to warm up until April, but when they do, there can be quite a bang. It’s the collision of warm and humid air from the Gulf and cold, dry air originating from Canada and the Rocky mountains that can spark off severe weather in the form of thunderstorms, and in some cases the devastating tornadoes typical of this area. The Alley is the most active tornado area in the world.

The summer can be hot and arid, although with short, sharp thunderstorms, and strong winds can whip up dust storms in drought conditions. And when we say “hot”, we really mean it; Pierre, South Dakota’s July daytime highs average at 32ºC.

The best time to visit this area is late summer into early fall when the most intense heat is starting to fade and it’s generally dry and sunny. Be aware that tornadoes can still occur even now, but are not as likely as earlier in the year.

Average weather in


Average weather in

Lake Tahoe