If you have ever taken a long trip, you may have noticed the weather can be quite different in different parts of the country. For example, if you travel from Detroit to Miami in December, you may need a large suitcase.

The snow and ice of a Detroit winter may mean you wear snow boots and a coat onto the plane, but by the time you get to Miami, you will be ready for a swimsuit and shorts! The reason for the difference in weather is that Detroit and Miami have very different climates.

Weather describes what is happening outdoors at a certain location at a certain time. The weather can change dramatically over a short period of time. Weather includes daily changes in precipitation, humidity, barometric pressure, temperature and wind.

Climate, on the other hand, describes the average weather in a specific location over many years. Climate is what the weather is normally like in your city. For example, Houston has a humid climate, and Seattle has a wet climate.

Many factors, such as elevation, ocean currents, distance from the sea and prevailing winds, can affect the climate of an area. One of the most important things that influences climate, though, is latitude. The latitude of an area indicates how far it is — north or south — of the equator.

Latitude affects climate because it is related to the length and intensity of sunlight an area receives. As Earth orbits the sun, sometimes the northern hemisphere is tipped toward the sun, while at other times the southern hemisphere is tipped toward the sun.

When a location is closer to the sun, its days are longer, and the sun’s rays are stronger and more direct. When our hemisphere is tipped toward the sun, we experience warmer weather and longer days. This is our summer.

When we tip away from the sun, the days are shorter and colder. This is winter.

But none of this explains why Detroit and Miami would have such different weather on the same day in the same month, does it? Actually… it does!

Miami is much closer to the equator than Detroit. This means the tipping of the hemispheres has less extreme effects on Miami than Detroit. Because Miami is closer to the equator, it receives a lot of sunlight and warmth all year long and thus maintains a warm climate.


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  1. I learned that weather includes changes such as; precipitation , temperature , humidity , wind , and barometric pressure. I also learned that things like The Ocean can effect the weather! I surely learned a lot from all of this but I have a question: Why are the days longer when its hotter and why are they shorter when its colder? Thank you for all the amazing facts!

  2. I learned that different states have different weather because theie climate is different. Different states also have different times in for example California has a different time then Georgia .But I still wonder if in two states can it have the same weather at the same time ,for example California and Georgia it start raining at the same time and end at the same time.

    • We’re really glad you’re WONDERing with us, Kortni! Sometimes a system of clouds and precipitation is really massive and affects weather across many states, so we think it’s certainly possible two states can have the same weather like rain! :)

    • Hi, Bae! We’re sorry to hear you did not like this WONDER. We’re glad you found other WONDERS you liked better! There are more than 1,400 WONDERS to explore on WONDERopolis. Remember to always keep WONDERing! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do different states have different weather?
  • What is the difference between weather and climate?
  • What factors affect climate?

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