Average Weather in Raleigh North Carolina, United States
In Raleigh, the summers are hot and muggy, the winters are very cold, and it is wet and partly cloudy year round. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 33°F to 89°F and is rarely below 20°F or above 95°F.
Based on the tourism score, the best times of year to visit Raleigh for warm-weather activities are from early May to mid June and from late August to mid October.
The hot season lasts for 3.6 months, from May 25 to September 14, with an average daily high temperature above 81°F. The hottest day of the year is July 20, with an average high of 89°F and low of 71°F.
The cool season lasts for 3.0 months, from November 29 to February 28, with an average daily high temperature below 59°F. The coldest day of the year is January 29, with an average low of 33°F and high of 52°F.
Average High and Low Temperature
The figure below shows you a compact characterization of the entire year of hourly average temperatures. The horizontal axis is the day of the year, the vertical axis is the hour of the day, and the color is the average temperature for that hour and day.
Average Hourly Temperature
frigid 15°F freezing 32°F very cold 45°F cold 55°F cool 65°F comfortable 75°F warm 85°F hot 95°F sweltering
In Raleigh, the average percentage of the sky covered by clouds experiences mild seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The clearer part of the year in Raleigh begins around July 31 and lasts for 3.8 months, ending around November 23. On October 11, the clearest day of the year, the sky is clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 65% of the time, and overcast or mostly cloudy 35% of the time.
The cloudier part of the year begins around November 23 and lasts for 8.3 months, ending around July 31. On January 4, the cloudiest day of the year, the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy 51% of the time, and clear, mostly clear, or partly cloudy 49% of the time.
Cloud Cover Categories
0% clear 20% mostly clear 40% partly cloudy 60% mostly cloudy 80% overcast 100%
A wet day is one with at least 0.04 inches of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation. The chance of wet days in Raleigh varies throughout the year.
The wetter season lasts 3.6 months, from May 12 to August 30, with a greater than 33% chance of a given day being a wet day. The chance of a wet day peaks at 46% on July 15.
The drier season lasts 8.4 months, from August 30 to May 12. The smallest chance of a wet day is 20% on October 30.
Among wet days, we distinguish between those that experience rain alone, snow alone, or a mixture of the two. Based on this categorization, the most common form of precipitation throughout the year is rain alone, with a peak probability of 46% on July 15.
Daily Chance of Precipitation
To show variation within the months and not just the monthly totals, we show the rainfall accumulated over a sliding 31-day period centered around each day of the year. Raleigh experiences some seasonal variation in monthly rainfall.
Rain falls throughout the year in Raleigh. The most rain falls during the 31 days centered around September 3, with an average total accumulation of 4.2 inches.
The least rain falls around November 9, with an average total accumulation of 2.7 inches.
Average Monthly Rainfall
We report snowfall in liquid-equivalent terms. The actual depth of new snowfall is typically between 5 and 10 times the liquid-equivalent amount, assuming the ground is frozen. Colder, drier snow tends to be on the higher end of that range and warmer, wetter snow on the lower end.
As with rainfall, we consider the snowfall accumulated over a sliding 31-day period centered around each day of the year. Raleigh experiences some seasonal variation in monthly liquid-equivalent snowfall.
The snowy period of the year lasts for 3.0 months, from December 10 to March 9, with a sliding 31-day liquid-equivalent snowfall of at least 0.1 inches. The most snow falls during the 31 days centered around February 2, with an average total liquid-equivalent accumulation of 0.3 inches.
The snowless period of the year lasts for 9.0 months, from March 9 to December 10. The least snow falls around July 22, with an average total liquid-equivalent accumulation of 0.0 inches.
Average Liquid-Equivalent Monthly Snowfall
The length of the day in Raleigh varies significantly over the course of the year. In 2020, the shortest day is December 21, with 9 hours, 44 minutes of daylight; the longest day is June 20, with 14 hours, 35 minutes of daylight.
Hours of Daylight and Twilight
The earliest sunrise is at 5:57 AM on June 12, and the latest sunrise is 1 hour, 38 minutes later at 7:36 AM on October 31. The earliest sunset is at 5:00 PM on December 5, and the latest sunset is 3 hours, 34 minutes later at 8:34 PM on June 28.
Daylight saving time (DST) is observed in Raleigh during 2020, starting in the spring on March 8, lasting 7.8 months, and ending in the fall on November 1.
Sunrise & Sunset with Twilight and Daylight Saving Time
We base the humidity comfort level on the dew point, as it determines whether perspiration will evaporate from the skin, thereby cooling the body. Lower dew points feel drier and higher dew points feel more humid. Unlike temperature, which typically varies significantly between night and day, dew point tends to change more slowly, so while the temperature may drop at night, a muggy day is typically followed by a muggy night.
Raleigh experiences extreme seasonal variation in the perceived humidity.
The muggier period of the year lasts for 4.5 months, from May 18 to October 2, during which time the comfort level is muggy, oppressive, or miserable at least 21% of the time. The muggiest day of the year is July 24, with muggy conditions 86% of the time.
The least muggy day of the year is February 4, when muggy conditions are essentially unheard of.
Humidity Comfort Levels
dry 55°F comfortable 60°F humid 65°F muggy 70°F oppressive 75°F miserable
This section discusses the wide-area hourly average wind vector (speed and direction) at 10 meters above the ground. The wind experienced at any given location is highly dependent on local topography and other factors, and instantaneous wind speed and direction vary more widely than hourly averages.
The average hourly wind speed in Raleigh experiences mild seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The windier part of the year lasts for 6.4 months, from November 4 to May 16, with average wind speeds of more than 6.0 miles per hour. The windiest day of the year is March 7, with an average hourly wind speed of 7.4 miles per hour.
The calmer time of year lasts for 5.6 months, from May 16 to November 4. The calmest day of the year is August 8, with an average hourly wind speed of 4.7 miles per hour.
Average Wind Speed
The predominant average hourly wind direction in Raleigh varies throughout the year.
The wind is most often from the south for 3.2 months, from March 18 to June 23 and for 1.6 months, from July 4 to August 24, with a peak percentage of 35% on July 14. The wind is most often from the east for 2.1 weeks, from August 24 to September 8, with a peak percentage of 30% on September 5. The wind is most often from the north for 6.3 months, from September 8 to March 18, with a peak percentage of 33% on January 1.
Best Time of Year to Visit
To characterize how pleasant the weather is in Raleigh throughout the year, we compute two travel scores.
The tourism score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 65°F and 80°F. Based on this score, the best times of year to visit Raleigh for general outdoor tourist activities are from early May to mid June and from late August to mid October, with a peak score in the third week of September.
The beach/pool score favors clear, rainless days with perceived temperatures between 75°F and 90°F. Based on this score, the best time of year to visit Raleigh for hot-weather activities is from early June to early September, with a peak score in the second week of August.
For each hour between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM of each day in the analysis period (1980 to 2016), independent scores are computed for perceived temperature, cloud cover, and total precipitation. Those scores are combined into a single hourly composite score, which is then aggregated into days, averaged over all the years in the analysis period, and smoothed.
Our cloud cover score is 10 for fully clear skies, falling linearly to 9 for mostly clear skies, and to 1 for fully overcast skies.
Our precipitation score, which is based on the three-hour precipitation centered on the hour in question, is 10 for no precipitation, falling linearly to 9 for trace precipitation, and to 0 for 0.04 inches of precipitation or more.
Our tourism temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 50°F, rising linearly to 9 for 65°F, to 10 for 75°F, falling linearly to 9 for 80°F, and to 1 for 90°F or hotter.
Our beach/pool temperature score is 0 for perceived temperatures below 65°F, rising linearly to 9 for 75°F, to 10 for 82°F, falling linearly to 9 for 90°F, and to 1 for 100°F or hotter.
Definitions of the growing season vary throughout the world, but for the purposes of this report, we define it as the longest continuous period of non-freezing temperatures (≥ 32°F) in the year (the calendar year in the Northern Hemisphere, or from July 1 until June 30 in the Southern Hemisphere).
The growing season in Raleigh typically lasts for 7.3 months (224 days), from around March 27 to around November 5, rarely starting before March 7 or after April 17, and rarely ending before October 19 or after November 24.
Time Spent in Various Temperature Bands and the Growing Season
Growing degree days are a measure of yearly heat accumulation used to predict plant and animal development, and defined as the integral of warmth above a base temperature, discarding any excess above a maximum temperature. In this report, we use a base of 50°F and a cap of 86°F.
Based on growing degree days alone, the first spring blooms in Raleigh should appear around February 16, only rarely appearing before January 28 or after March 6.
Growing Degree Days
This section discusses the total daily incident shortwave solar energy reaching the surface of the ground over a wide area, taking full account of seasonal variations in the length of the day, the elevation of the Sun above the horizon, and absorption by clouds and other atmospheric constituents. Shortwave radiation includes visible light and ultraviolet radiation.
The average daily incident shortwave solar energy experiences significant seasonal variation over the course of the year.
The brighter period of the year lasts for 4.2 months, from April 13 to August 19, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter above 5.9 kWh. The brightest day of the year is June 22, with an average of 6.8 kWh.
The darker period of the year lasts for 3.0 months, from November 9 to February 7, with an average daily incident shortwave energy per square meter below 3.3 kWh. The darkest day of the year is December 24, with an average of 2.4 kWh.
Average Daily Incident Shortwave Solar Energy
For the purposes of this report, the geographical coordinates of Raleigh are 35.772 deg latitude, -78.639 deg longitude, and 295 ft elevation.
The topography within 2 miles of Raleigh contains only modest variations in elevation, with a maximum elevation change of 217 feet and an average elevation above sea level of 292 feet. Within 10 miles also contains only modest variations in elevation (443 feet). Within 50 miles contains only modest variations in elevation (968 feet).
The area within 2 miles of Raleigh is covered by artificial surfaces (100%), within 10 miles by artificial surfaces (57%) and trees (31%), and within 50 miles by trees (51%) and cropland (36%).
This report illustrates the typical weather in Raleigh, based on a statistical analysis of historical hourly weather reports and model reconstructions from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2016.
Temperature and Dew Point
There are 5 weather stations near enough to contribute to our estimation of the temperature and dew point in Raleigh.
For each station, the records are corrected for the elevation difference between that station and Raleigh according to the International Standard Atmosphere , and by the relative change present in the MERRA-2 satellite-era reanalysis between the two locations.
The estimated value at Raleigh is computed as the weighted average of the individual contributions from each station, with weights proportional to the inverse of the distance between Raleigh and a given station.
The stations contributing to this reconstruction are: Raleigh-Durham International Airport (44%, 19 kilometers, northwest); Johnston Regional Airport (18%, 34 kilometers, southeast); Louisburg, Franklin County Airport (15%, 39 kilometers, northeast); Erwin, Harnett County Airport (12%, 45 kilometers, south); and Sanford, Sanford-Lee County Regional Airport (11%, 47 kilometers, southwest).
All data relating to the Sun's position (e.g., sunrise and sunset) are computed using astronomical formulas from the book, Astronomical Algorithms 2nd Edition , by Jean Meeus.
All other weather data, including cloud cover, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and solar flux, come from NASA's MERRA-2 Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis . This reanalysis combines a variety of wide-area measurements in a state-of-the-art global meteorological model to reconstruct the hourly history of weather throughout the world on a 50-kilometer grid.
Land Use data comes from the Global Land Cover SHARE database , published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Elevation data comes from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) , published by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Names, locations, and time zones of places and some airports come from the GeoNames Geographical Database .
Time zones for aiports and weather stations are provided by AskGeo.com .
Maps are © Esri, with data from National Geographic, Esri, DeLorme, NAVTEQ, UNEP-WCMC, USGS, NASA, ESA, METI, NRCAN, GEBCO, NOAA, and iPC.
The information on this site is provided as is, without any assurances as to its accuracy or suitability for any purpose. Weather data is prone to errors, outages, and other defects. We assume no responsibility for any decisions made on the basis of the content presented on this site.
We draw particular cautious attention to our reliance on the MERRA-2 model-based reconstructions for a number of important data series. While having the tremendous advantages of temporal and spatial completeness, these reconstructions: (1) are based on computer models that may have model-based errors, (2) are coarsely sampled on a 50 km grid and are therefore unable to reconstruct the local variations of many microclimates, and (3) have particular difficulty with the weather in some coastal areas, especially small islands.
We further caution that our travel scores are only as good as the data that underpin them, that weather conditions at any given location and time are unpredictable and variable, and that the definition of the scores reflects a particular set of preferences that may not agree with those of any particular reader.