TheRoute-66

TheRoute-66.com
Plan the Road Trip of your Life


Home

Route 66

Weather along Route 66

All you need to know about the Weather

Know the weather on Route 66: Climate can make or break your vacations. Learn all about the weather along U.S. 66; what temperatures to expect, tornado risk, wind, sun, snow. Full details on the climate.
 

Weather, Seasons and Route 66

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Travel in winter

Road, snow, winter, by A. Whittall

The period of the year that spans from the middle of spring until mid-fall, including summer (May to October) is the best season for driving Route 66.

If you travel earlier (January to April), or later (November and December), you run the risk of encountering snow and cold weather. Bear in mind that US 66 runs all the way from Chicago in the North to balmy Los Angeles in the Southwest, so it runs through several climate zones.

Tornados (see our page on tornadoes) can and do take place during any month of the year, but they are less frequent in winter and more common during spring and early summer (March to June).

Summer can be pretty warm in the Western areas of Route 66, but that is no problem with air-conditioning in cars, motels and diners. Just dress comfortably for the hot weather.

Thunderstorm looming over the Mojave

Summer thunderstorm over the Mojave, California
Summer thunderstorm over the Mojave California.
By

Rain. Should be expected and planned for: take rain gear with you, don't let it spoil your outdoor activities during your trip.

Cold weather and low temperatures can be encountered even in summer; in the West, there is a large swing between day time and night time temperatures. Carry a light jacket with you, even in summer.

In each of our attractions and Towns we include the weather and the current forecast.

But you can check the official websites with weather alerts, forecasts and snow ⁄ rainfall data too:

Seasons & Weather

Rainfall along route 66

The alignment of Route 66 is shown as a black line linking Chicago with Los Angeles.

There is a clear cline with a decreasing trend to the west and to the north of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The change in rainfall is more noticeable towards the west, falling to its lowest values (less than 5 in. - 12 cm per year) in the Mojave region of California and Western Arizona.

Rainfall map key

Map Key rainfall in inches and mm

Average U.S. Rainfall Map

Average US rainfall map
Map with Average Rainfall U.S.
Adapted by

The Temperatures along Route 66

The following maps show the average high and low temperatures for each season, based on a given month.

The alignment of Route 66 is shown as a black line linking Chicago with Los Angeles.

Summer

Average High Temperatures - July

Average High Temperature map, July
Map with Average High Temperatures July U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data
convert Fahrenheit to centigrade

Fahrenheit to Centigrade conversion

Average low Temperatures - July

Average low Temperature map, July
Map with Average low Temperatures July U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data

Fall (Autumn)

Average High Temperatures - October

Average High Temperature map, October
Map with Average High Temperatures October U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data
convert Fahrenheit to centigrade

Fahrenheit to Centigrade conversion

Average low Temperatures - October

Average low Temperature map, October
Map with Average low Temperatures October U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data

Winter

Average High Temperatures - January

Average High Temperature map, January
Map with Average High Temperatures January U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data
convert Fahrenheit to centigrade

Fahrenheit to Centigrade conversion

Average low Temperatures - January

Average low Temperature map, January
Map with Average low Temperatures January U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data

Spring

Average High Temperatures - April

Average High Temperature map, April
Map with Average High Temperatures April U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data
convert Fahrenheit to centigrade

Fahrenheit to Centigrade conversion

Average low Temperatures - April

Average low Temperature map, April
Map with Average low Temperatures April U.S.
Adapted by from NOAA data

Weather State by State

Apart from a general overview of the weatehr in each state, below you can click and see the current weather forecast for each town and city along Route 66 as well as the typical weather during the different seasons.

What is the weather in Vinita OK like?

Interested in finding out about Las Vegas NM weather or the Elk City Oklahoma weather? use the links below to see forecast and historical weather conditions:

Weather in each town along Route 66

Weather in Route 66 Towns: by State

States from East to West, towns also

Weather in Route 66 Towns: Alphabetical list

Weather: Alphabetic list

An overview of the climate in each State

The weather along Route 66, state by state, from west to east.

California

Los Angeles

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 71 ⁄ 49 °F (22 ⁄ 9 °C)

Jul. : 92 ⁄ 68 °F (33 ⁄ 19 °C)

This state has a Mediterranean climate along its coast and southern region, with dry summers and rainy winters.

As you move inland, beyond the coastal hills, the moderating effect of the Ocean decreases, so the summer temperatures are higher by about 25°F (14°C) and the winter temperatures are around 7°F lower (4°C).

A phenomenon known as the Mexican Monsoon or "Southwest Monsoon" funnels moisture from the Ocean (The Pacific and also the Gulf of Mexico) into the desert region of the Southwest causing strong thunderstorms with intense downpour over the mountains.

Arizona

Flagstaff

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 43 ⁄ 17 °F (6 ⁄ -8 °C)

Jul. : 89 ⁄ 60 °F (32 ⁄ 16 °C)

The region through which Route 66 runs, crosses the dry and arid or semi-arid regions of the state, which have a Semiarid Steppe Climate. This northern part is cooler than the southern areas of Arizona.

The rainy season takes place during summer (when the moisture from the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico is blown across the state), causing thunderstorms. Early winter is also a rainy period.

Snow, despite being hot in summer, the winters are cold and snow is frequent. At any time between November and late March, storm systems moving in from the Pacific Ocean can cause heavy snow in the high mountainous areas of central and Northern Arizona. The Grand Canyon's South rim receives 60 inches (1.3 m) of snow in winter, its North rim 144 inches (3.2 m).

The area with highest rainfall is the high region around Flagstaff, becoming drier to the east and west of that town. The area with least rainfall along U.S. 66 is between Oatman and the Colorado River.

The average relative humidity is low, and the highest is found in Flagstaff: 55%.

Altitude and dryness causes large variations in temperature between day and night, even in summer.

New Mexico

Albuquerque

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 47 ⁄ 24 °F (8 ⁄ -4 °C)

Jul. : 92 ⁄ 65 °F (33 ⁄ 18 °C)

Along the alignment of Route 66, in the higher parts of the State, summer temperatures are moderated by the altitude, averaging 70°F (26°C), but in other parts of the state, the temperature in July can exceed 100°F (38°C).

The state is arid or semi-arid and very dry: average rainfall is around 14 inches (350 mm) yearly.

It snows across the state in winter, especially in the higher northern mountains. Albuquerque averages around 2 inches of snow monthly in winter.

Bear in mind that altitude and dryness causes large swings between day and night temperatures, even in summer.

Texas

Amarillo

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 49 ⁄ 23 °F (9 ⁄ -5 °C)

Jul. : 91 ⁄ 65 °F (33 ⁄ 18 °C)

This area has a Semiarid Steppe Climate, and is rather dry but very sunny: rainfall averages 20 in per year (500 mm). Summer highs (June through September) average over 90°F (30°C) and the average lows are about 65°F (19°C). During winter the highs average 50°F (10°C) with lows below freezing: 25°F (-4°C).

It can snow in the Texas Panhandle at any time between September and May (first snow is usually on the first week of December). The high altitude causes greater snowfall than locations further east: 17” per year on average (with peaks of about 40”) - 43 to 102 cm.

During winter, cold winds from the north can drop the temperatures below freezing and provoke blizzard conditions.

The western region of US 66 corridor through Texas is among the windiest in the U.S., but it is also among the sunniest regions in America.

Thunderstorms are frequent in summer and Tornadoes are predominant during the period between April and June (Tornadoes on Route 66).

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 50 ⁄ 29 °F (10 ⁄ -29 °C)

Jul. : 94 ⁄ 72 °F (34 ⁄ 22 °C)

The open flat region of Oklahoma is subjected to the influence of the humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, the dry and hot air from the west and the cold and dry air from Canada. This combination leads to fluctuating and extreme climatic conditions: Oklahoma is located on the "Tornado Alley and is hit by an average of 62 tornados each year between April and June, which is among the highest in the whole World.

The climate is humid and subtropical in its central regions.

It rains all year, with higher precipitation during late spring and summer (around 5 inches 13 cm), with thunderstorms during this period.

Summers are hot and winters mild (but as mentioned above, cold spells with snow or freezing rain are common too). Oklahoma City experiences around 3 in. of snow monthly in winter.

Kansas

Southeast KS

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 38 ⁄ 17 °F (3 ⁄ -8 °C)

Jul. : 90 ⁄ 67 °F (32 ⁄ 19 °C)

Rainfall is more common in summer and spring and highest along the corridor of US 66 (with 47 inches or 1,200 mm per year). Summers are very hot and humid and winters oscillate between very cold spells and warm periods.

The southeastern area (where Route 66 crosses the state) has a subtropical climate

Snowfall increases from southeast to northwest. The southern parts see around 5 inches (12 cm) of snow in winter, and enjoy over 200 frost-free days per year.

Kansas is the 9th or 10th sunniest state. Nevertheless, during spring and early summer thunderstorms and severe weather are common, and these can originate tornadoes, flash flooding, heavy winds and large hail.

There are around 50 tornadoes per year in Kansas (read about Tornadoes & Route 66).

Missouri

Saint Louis

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 38 ⁄ 21 °F (3 ⁄ -6 °C)

Jul. : 90 ⁄ 71 °F (32 ⁄ 22 °C)

Being a relatively flat state, it is influenced by the cold winds from the Arctic and the hot and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. The climate is humid and continental with warm summers.

Route 66 cuts across the state in a diagonal course from its southwestern tip to its central-eastern region at St. Louis.

Wide temperature fluctuations are common but in general summers are hot and winters long and cold.

It rains more frequently in spring and summer; yearly rainfall is around 45 inches - 1140 mm. This is also the period with most tornadoes; around 35 tornadoes strike Missouri every year.

Thunderstorms and even tropical cyclones can take place during summer.

Winters are drier; northwesterly winds prevail and snowfall ranges from 10 to 20 inches (25 - 51 cm).

Illinois

Chicago

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 31 ⁄ 16 °F (-1 ⁄ -9 °C)

Jul. : 84 ⁄ 64 °F (29 ⁄ 18 °C)

Its central location gives Illinois a continental climate with warm humid summers and cold winters.

Route 66 cuts across the state from the southwest to the northeast, along which rainfall decreases from around 48 to 35 inches (1,200 to 890 mm) and snowfall increases from around 14 inches (36 cm) to over 38 inches (97 cm) in Chicago.

May and June are the wettest months

Thunderstorms take place during spring and summer, and can provoke tornadoes (35 tornadoes strike Illinois every year, between April and June).

Summers are hot (the 1995 Chicago heat wave had temperatures of 106°F - 41°C), and winters can be very cold with abrupt drops in temperature.

Tornadoes

Tornado (n.). Derived from ternado a word used by sailors for strong windy thunderstorms. Probably originating from the Spanish words tronada, "thunderstorm", tronar "thunder" and even tornar, "to turn or rotate" in both Spanish and Portuguese. It was also known as tornatho, turnado and tornathe.

Plural: Tornado or Tornadoes.

Chances of encountering a Tornado along Route 66

The U.S. has about 100,000 thunderstorms a year and less than one percent produce a tornado. So the odds are against encountering one while driving along Route 66.

The tornado frequency along Route 66 (see map below) is quite variable: west of Albuquerque, NM, there are, on average, 0 tornado watches per year. In Oklahoma there are 10, and in the eastern Texas Panhandle, SE Kansas, Missouri and central Illinois between 5 and 8.

The weighted average frequency for the whole route is: 1.26%. That means that the probability of a tornado watch being issued on any given day is only 1.26% or, to put it differently, tornado watches are issued, on average, during 4.6 days every year.

A Tornado forming in Texas

Texas Tornado
Tornado Texas.

The area with highest tornado frequencies only has less than one tornado watch per month. Slim chances of encountering a tornado during your journey along Route 66.

>> Read more about Tornadoes on Route 66

Map of Tornado Frequency in the US

Tornado Watches; average number of tornado watches per year (1993-2012)

Twenty year tornado watch frequency map

Map with Tornado Frequency in USA over 20 years
Tornado Frequency Map, over 20 years, U.S.A.,
See Large Map

Sources

State of the Climate, National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)

National Weather Service, Forecasts

Image by A. Whittall.

Adapted from Map by Tom, Public Domain.

Image by Macbroadcast adapted under its CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

Map by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Public Domain.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License.