Climate of West Burke, Vermont
Long cold winters and short cool summers with adequate
precipitation in all seasons best describes the
climate of West Burke, Vermont. Summers are generally
free of severe weather and extreme heat and humidity,
but winters can have spells of severe cold. In addition,
this area experiences a large winter to summer
temperature range and very changeable daily weather.
location of West Burke (on the eastern side of
a mid-latitude continent, in the hills between
the Green and White Mountains, in northern New England,
and about 100 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean)
has a great influence on its climate. This location
makes the region very susceptible to the frequent
storm systems that march across the United States,
but not as susceptible to severe summer weather or
to coastal winter storms. Tornadoes are extremely
rare in the area and only occasionally do the remnants
of hurricanes or an “nor’easter” reach
far enough inland to affect the weather of West
The summers are short, but quite pleasant.
The nights are cool and the afternoon highs are
relatively free to extreme heat and humidity. The
July average temperature is a cool 650F with afternoon
high temperatures averaging 790F and morning low
temperatures averaging 520F. We average only four
days per summer of afternoon high temperatures above
900F and the upper 90’s
are very rare. In fact the hottest West Burke has
ever reached was 980F (in July of 1953).
are long and cold. January temperatures average
120F with morning lows averaging 10F and afternoon
highs averaging 230F. Almost every winter the temperature
drops down to the –300F mark, with –410F
in February of 1962 being the all-time coldest.
The average date for the first 00F temperature
reading of winter is December 4 and the average date
of the last 00F temperature reading of the winter
is March 18. Thus the “heart of winter” is
usually 104 days long. We average 46 days per winter
of morning low temperatures below 00F.
throughout the year is quite uniform with few prolonged
dry spells. This is due to frequent passage of
mid-latitude migratory low pressure systems (with
their associated fronts) in all seasons and occasional
thunderstorms in the summer. There is dependable
and adequate precipitation for most agricultural purposes.
An average year has 180 days with measurable precipitation
for a total of 41.25 inches. This great precipitation
dependability is indicated by the fact that the
probability of precipitation is near 50 percent for
each day of the year and yearly totals show little
variation from year to year. Unfortunately this also
means a high probability of cloudiness. In fact, we
have some of the lowest sunshine totals in the U.S.
November and mid-March to mid-April are especially
notable for their prolonged periods of cloudiness.
the other hand, seasonal snowfall varies widely.
It averages 94 inches, but in 1979-1980 there were
only 55 inches (61% of normal) and in 1970-1971
there were 145.5 inches (162% of normal). The annual
total accumulates as the result of many small snowfall
events and only occasional major snowstorms. The snow
season is long. Snow flurries have been observed during
10 months of the year and significant snowfalls (i.e.,
one inch or more) have occurred as early as October
10 in the fall and as late as May 11 in the spring.
Continuous snow cover (i.e., one inch depth on
the ground) lasts on the average for 134 days (November
25 through April 9). The maximum depth of snow
on the ground usually occurs in the spring after the
snow has been accumulating all winter. This maximum
usually occurs in early March and averages 31 inches
(it has been as great as 49 inches and as little
as 17 inches). Although some new snow will continue
to fall, with the increased sunshine after mid-April,
the snow on ground diminishes very quickly, occasionally
leading to spring flooding in the river valleys.
transition seasons are times of long, slow change.
Spring has a muddy beginning in mid-March and lingers
into late May under the influence of cool air flow
from eastern Canada. It is characterized by cool,
damp, and cloudy days, the excitement of sugaring,
and the threat of flooding from snow melt. Autumn
extends from early September through mid-November.
It commences with many warm pleasant days set against
a backdrop of spectacular fall foliage and ends
with another string of cool, damp, and cloudy days
whose dreariness is broken by the excitement of
the first significant snow flurries.
Since West Burke’s
climate is cool, the growing season (days between
the last 320F reading in the spring and the first
320F reading in the fall) is short. The average
last frost in the spring occurs on June 6 and the
average first frost in the fall occurs on September
10 for an average growing season of only 96 days (the
shortest was 55 days in 1965). The total heating degree
day units which accumulate each year (a measure of
fuel usage) are 9071, near maximum for the continental
United States. On the other hand, the total cooling
degree day units that accumulate each year (a measure
of air conditioning usage) are minimal (138).
Burke, Vermont is a good place for large woodpiles,
warm clothes, thick walls and tight windows, and
a hearty, self-reliant Yankee spirit!
summary of the climate of the northeastern section
of Vermont (“The Northeast Kingdom”)
was written by Dr. Bruce Berryman of the LSC Meteorology
Department based on data collected by Mr. Gilman
Ford, the National Weather Service Cooperative
Weather Observer in West Burke, Vermont since 1
July 1930. Click
here to view the summary.