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A Traveler's Guide to the Weather — The Northeast

by Will Cano | News Contributor


PART 2 – The Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Appalachians

A weatherman’s guide to dealing with the conditions you’ll run across when traveling to the Northeast

Included in this section:

  • New England – Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island
  • Mid-Atlantic – Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, D.C., Delaware, eastern Virginia
  • Appalachians – Western Pennsylvania, western Virginia, West Virginia

Fast Facts:

  • New York City tourism generated $74 billion for the city and state economies in 2023 (https://www.business.nyctourism.com/press-media/press-releases/year-end-tourism-numbers-announcement)
  • Acadia National Park is consistently one of the most visited National Parks in America, situated next to the touristic coastal town of Bar Harbor, Maine. (https://www.national geographic.com/travel/national-parks/article/most-visited-parks-photos)
  • 757,500 gallons of water flow over Niagara Falls every second. (https://www.niagara fallsstatepark.com/niagara-falls-state-park/amazing-niagara-facts#:~:text=The%20water %20falls%20at%2032,the%20United%20States%20and%20Canada)
  • Pittsburgh is within 500 miles of more than half the U.S. population (https:// www.pointpark.edu/about/aboutpittsburgh/fastfacts)


From I-95 to Niagara Falls, the Northeast is easily accessible and houses plenty of travel destinations. It’s a region who’s weather is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the Great Lakes, and the Appalachian Mountains. So what exactly what can you expect?

Sun vs. Clouds

Parts of the northeast are notoriously cloudy in the winter; as a student who goes to school in Ithaca, NY, I can attest to this. While its not all sunshine and rainbows in the summer months, the change of seasons does definitely help to ease some of these clouds.

Across the region, the sunniest skies will generally be seen along the I-95 corridor and coastal areas. The reason for this has to do more with why clouds are forming elsewhere more than anything else.

Across the interior northeast, more clouds are likely because of the Great Lakes. Lake effect clouds are formed as evaporating water is pushed onshore due to prevailing westerly trade winds. This water vapor rises and creates clouds that are over land after just a few minutes.

Furthermore, the Appalachians can have orographic lifting, at least to some degree. When warm air from the west collides with the mountain range, it is forced to rise. At a certain height this air condenses and forms clouds. These clouds can linger over the mountains and even sink into the valleys due to cold air damming.

This leaves a sliver about 100 miles wide along the east coast and points inland which is climatologically favorable to be the sunny. This isn’t to say it’s the sunniest part of the country to any extend, nor that it will always be sunnier than the rest of the northeast every day.

At the end of the day, there’s a reason why the show is called “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and not “It’s Always Sunny in Buffalo”.

Ocean Conditions

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic house over 17,000 miles of coastline. Countless beach towns bring these seashores to life and attract millions of tourists each year. This year, Atlantic Ocean temperatures are 3-4 degrees above average in some spots, making the eastern seaboard even more enticing to visit.

Yet the Atlantic is a powerful ocean, and its best to be prepared when planning a trip to this active coast.

Riptides are common across the northeast because of sandbars and piers. These can alter the natural flow of the tide, especially as waves recede back to the sea. If enough waves travel back into the ocean at the same time, a strong current can create a force that pulls the water – and everything else in it – away from the beach.

The risks are greatest on days with high, choppy surf. Even if the waves aren’t as gnarly as they are in California and the Pacific, it only takes waves of breaking height to create a rip current.

This year may be especially susceptible to rip currents if any hurricanes become involved. With an above active hurricane season expected, any hurricanes that are out on the open Atlantic – even if far from shore – will cause dangerous seas along the Eastern Seaboard and a heightened rip current risk.


The Northeast faced a scorching heat wave as summer was just arriving in late June. Some places reached far above their historical highs, such as Augusta, Maine hitting 99 °F on Wednesday, June 19th (20 degrees above average!!).

The heat may not stay that sweltering, but the chances certainly arise for it to return. This summer is expected to be above average across much of (if not all) the continental United States.

This may be helpful in places like the shore, where people are looking for an excuse to cool off in the ocean. But is can be a problem for other places, such as cities, dur to the Urban Heat Island Effect.

New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. all have vast amounts of concrete. It is a natural absorbers of the sun’s powerful radiation, and it does a great job of retaining this energy for hours on end.

This can result in cities not just feeling hotter, but actually running two to three degrees warmer than surrounding areas. In addition, the heat can linger into the night hours, where radiational cooling should take precedence but fails to do so because of concrete’s heat retention.


This article barely scratches the surface of different places to see and things to do across the Northeast, but hopefully it gives you a clue into why the weather is so important across the region.