Boise, Idaho has a semi-arid climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are cold and snowy. Precipitation is heaviest in the spring and fall, but snowfall can occur any time from November to May.
Despite its location in the Intermountain West, Boise’s climate is influenced more by the Pacific Northwest than by the desert Southwest. This is due to the city’s proximity to the Cascade Range, which blocks much of the moisture from the Gulf of California from reaching Boise. As a result, Boise experiences relatively little humidity and gets very little rain compared to other parts of the country.
One of Boise’s most notable weather events is the “Chinook wind.” These warm winds typically occur during the winter and can raise temperatures by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of hours. Chinooks are caused by a strong high-pressure system over the Pacific Ocean that forces air down the slopes of the Cascade Range. When this warm, moist air reaches Boise, it rapidly warms the city and often melts any snow on the ground.
While Boise is known for its mild winters, the city does experience some extreme weather from time to time. In January 2012, for example, Boise was hit with a “bomb cyclone” that brought record low temperatures, high winds, and heavy snowfall to the area. This type of event is relatively rare in Boise, but when it does occur it can have a significant impact on the city.
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