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Humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa or Cwa) is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. This climate type covers a broad category of climates, and the term "subtropical" may be a misnomer for the winter climate.

Significant amounts of precipitation occur in all seasons in most areas. Winter rainfall (and sometimes snowfall) is associated with large storms that the westerlies steer from west to east. Most summer rainfall occurs during thunderstorms and an occasional tropical storm, hurricane or cyclone.

Humid subtropical climates lie on the southeast side of all continents except Antarcticamarker, roughly between latitudes 25° and 40° north and south. Two of the few exceptions where this climate zone reaches up to latitude 46° north are in the Po Valley and the Toulousemarker regions in Europe.

The Koppen definition of this climate is for the coldest month's mean temperature to be between and , and the warmest month to be above ; along with either a dry winter- with less than one tenth of the precipitation of the wettest summer month- (Köppen: w) or without dry season (Köppen: f, winter months get more than one tenth of the precipitation of the wettest summer month, and summer months get at least per month or more than one third as much the wettest winter month).


in Africa, the humid subtropical climates are found in two separate areas on the southern hemisphere of the continent. The Cwa climate is found in over a large portion of the interior of the Middle and Eastern Africa regions. This area includes; central Angolamarker, northeastern Zimbabwemarker, the Niassamarker, Manicamarker and Tetemarker provinces of Mozambiquemarker, the southern Congomarker provinces, southwest Tanzania, and the majority of Malawimarker, and Zambiamarker. Some lower portions of the Ethiopian Highlandsmarker also have this climate.

The Cfa climate covers a relatively small area of coastal KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa, and is characterised by oceanic influences that give mild temperatures, especially in winter when temperatures do not drop as low as in many other regions within the humid subtropical category. For example Richards Baymarker experiences a daily average minimum of 12°C and a daily average maximum of 23°C in the coldest month, and did not drop below 4°C in the thirty years of records from 1961. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year, but is heavier in summer, with a high of 172 mm for January and a low of 57 mm for June at Richards Baymarker.


Humid subtropical climates in Asia differ from those in other continents, in that they generally have a pronounced dry winter even on the poleward boundary of this region, with most falling in the Cwa classification. They occupy extensive arcs of lowlands from northern Pakistanmarker circling the Himalayasmarker to China, South Coast of South Koreamarker and Japan (most of Honshūmarker, Kyūshūmarker and Shikokumarker). Some major Asian cities in this climate zone include Kathmandumarker, Chengdumarker, Chongqingmarker, Shanghai, Nanjingmarker, Busanmarker, Kyoto and Tokyomarker. Hong Kongmarker and Taipeimarker are on the equatorward boundary of this zone and Qingdaomarker is on the northern boundary.

In most of this region, there is very little precipiation during the winter, owing to the powerful anticyclonic winds from Siberiamarker. Only in those parts of coastal eastern China, between approximately the Yellow Rivermarker and the Pearl Rivermarker, is there sufficient winter rainfall to produce a Cfa climate; even in these areas, rainfall and streamflow show a very pronounced summer peak quite unlike other regions of this climate type. The only area where the winter rainfall equals the summer rain is on the "San-in" (Sea of Japanmarker) coast of Japanmarker, which during winter is effectively on the windward side of the westerlies. The winter rainfall in these regions is usually produced by low pressure systems off the east coast that develop in the onshore flow from the Siberian high. Summer rainfall comes from the East Asian Monsoon and from frequent typhoons.

Annual rainfall is generally over 1,000 mm (40 inches), and in areas below the Himalayas can be much higher still. In the west, humid subtropical climate border on continental climates as altitude increases, or on winter-rainfall climates in Pakistan.

Humid zones in Southwestern Asia (Northern Middle East and Caucasus)

Although humid subtropical climates in Asia are mostly confined to the southeastern quarter of the continent, there are areas on the Caspian Seamarker and Black Seamarker with humid subtropical climates that are unusually warm for their high latitudes and also unusual for this climate type, that snowfall in winter is relatively common, but is usually of a short duration.

In the narrow Caspianmarker coastal strip of Iranmarker (Gilanmarker and Mazandaranmarker) a humid subtropical climate prevails at an unusually high latitude. Annual rainfall ranges from around 740 mm (29 inches) at Sarimarker to over 2,000 mm (78 inches) at Bandar-e Anzalimarker, and is heavy throughout the year, with a maximum in October or November when Bandar-e Anzalimarker can average 400 millimetres (16 inches). Temperatures are generally moderate in comparison with other parts of Southwestern Asia (Middle East). In Rashtmarker, the average maximum in July is around 28 °C (82 °F) but with near-saturation humidity, whilst in January it is around 9 °C (48 °F). The heavy, evenly distributed rainfall extends north into the Caspian coastal strip of Azerbaijanmarker up to its northern border but this climate in Azerbaijan is, however, a Cfa/Cfb (Oceanic climate/Humid subtropical climate) borderline case. During winter, the coastal areas can receive snowfall, but is usually of a short duration.Annual rainfall in Lankaranmarker in the southeast averages up to 1,800 mm (70 inches) and is heavy throughout the year; and annual rainfall is generally over 1,000 mm (40 inches) in the foothills of the Caucasus in the northeast, as altitude increases and the humid subtropical climate changes to the oceanic climate

Western Georgiamarker in the Kolkheti Lowland and the north coast of Turkeymarker, have a climate similar to that of Gilan and Mazandaran in Iran and very similar to that of southeastern and northeastern Azerbaijan. Temperatures range from 22 °C in summer to 5 °C in winter and rainfall is even heavier than in Caspian Iran, up to 2,300 millimetres per year in Hopamarker (Turkey) and up to 2,560 millimetres per year in Batumimarker (Georgia) falling throughout the year. This climate in northern Turkey and western Georgia is, again, a Cfa/Cfb (Oceanic climate/Humid subtropical climate) borderline case. And again, during winter, the coastal areas can receive snowfall, but is usually of a short duration.

North America

In North America, humid subtropical climates are almost exclusively the domain of the American South, including the following states: the eastern half of Texas marker, Louisianamarker, most of Arkansasmarker, Alabamamarker, Mississippimarker, Tennesseemarker, Georgiamarker, Kentuckymarker, most of Floridamarker, and Virginiamarker excluding upland regions of the Appalachiansmarker and southwestern West Virginiamarker though the climate in many of these states including Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas are subject to extremes. It also exists in the Mid-Atlantic, in low-lying or urban areas in Marylandmarker, Delawaremarker, southeastern Pennsylvaniamarker, southern and central New Jerseymarker, Long Islandmarker, the island of Manhattanmarker, and along the immediate coastline of southern Connecticutmarker. It can also be found in the Midwest, primarily in the southern portions of Missourimarker, Illinoismarker, Indianamarker, and Ohiomarker. The Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern areas included in this climate typically see snowfall during the winter, with occasional heavy storms. The classic example of a humid subtropical climate is the Deep South, because the summers are long and almost tropical, and temperatures reach freezing only a few times in the winter with rare snowfall, usually three inches or less. Summers in this zone are hot and humid, with daily averages above 25°C (77°F). Major cities typically included in this climate zone include: Houstonmarker, Dallasmarker, Atlantamarker, Evansville, Memphismarker, Birminghammarker, New Orleansmarker, Nashvillemarker, Charlottemarker, Baltimoremarker, Jacksonvillemarker, Orlandomarker, Tampamarker, Richmondmarker, Norfolkmarker, Tulsamarker, Washington, D.C.marker and Little Rockmarker. Major cities on the northern periphery of this zone include: St. Louismarker, Louisvillemarker, Cincinnatimarker, Philadelphiamarker and New York Citymarker. The climates of Dallasmarker, San Antoniomarker and Oklahoma Citymarker display a marked reduction in rainfall that suggests a shading into steppe climates to be found farther west, as in Lubbock, Texasmarker. There is some debate over whether the New York Citymarker area (including Long Islandmarker and Connecticutmarker) falls under this category; depending on source, they could fall either in Cfa or Dfa, though they usually fall under Cfa or humid subtropical due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the warming Gulf Stream current.

In Mexicomarker, there are small areas of Cfa and Cwa climates. They are both caused by the high elevations of Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and Sierra Madre Oriental in areas which would otherwise be classified as tropical.

Characteristics and variants

The southernmost limits of this climate lie just north of South Floridamarker and around southern coastal Texasmarker. Areas farther south have a true tropical climate, with very warm weather year round and minimal temperature differences between seasons. By contrast, the northernmost limits of the humid subtropical region experience much greater seasonal variation, as they draw influence from the Atlantic Ocean and its bays, Delaware Baymarker and Chesapeake Bay. Farther away from the Atlantic, it is found at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, west to Louisville, Kentuckymarker, then roughly along the lower Ohio River through Paducahmarker, Kentucky to a line near Springfield, Missourimarker. Areas farther north than this, inland, or at a higher elevation, fall into the humid continental climate category with harsher winters. Snowfall varies greatly in this climate zone. In locations at the southern limits of this zone and areas around the Gulf Coast, cities such as Orlandomarker, Tampamarker, Houstonmarker and New Orleansmarker rarely see snowfall, which occurs, at most, a few times per generation. In inland southern cities farther north, such as Atlantamarker, Memphismarker, Little Rockmarker, Nashvillemarker, Dallasmarker, Charlottemarker and Raleighmarker, snow falls once or twice a season and is usually three inches or less and occasional snow and ice storms are not unusual; however, most of the winter temperatures remain above or well above freezing with hardy plant growth. In the northern limits of this climate zone, however, cities such as Louisvillemarker, Cincinnatimarker, Philadelphiamarker and New York Citymarker experience snow every winter, sometimes accumulating heavily although it melts more quickly than in regions to the north. Precipitation is plentiful in the humid subtropical climate zone. Although most areas tend to have precipitation spread evenly throughout the year, a somewhat monsoon-like pattern is seen in parts of the Southeast (in locales such as Augusta, Georgiamarker and Columbia, South Carolinamarker), which experience dry winters (by humid subtropical standards) and warm spring, followed immediately by a long, hot, rainy and humid summer. In addition, areas in Texasmarker that are slightly inland from the Gulf of Mexicomarker, such as Austin, generally see a peak of precipitation in the spring, and a deep, drought-like nadir in mid-summer.

South America

Most of north-eastern Argentinamarker, Uruguaymarker, southern Brazilmarker, and eastern Paraguaymarker is Cfa.

The Cwa climate occurs in parts of tropical highlands of São Paulomarker state, Minas Geraismarker and near the Andean highland in northwestern Argentinamarker.


The humid subtropical climate dominates most of eastern Australia south from about Bundaberg, Queenslandmarker down to about Begamarker on the south coast of New South Walesmarker. It extends from the coast inland to about Dubbomarker and the Warrumbungle and Nandewarmarker mountain ranges, where it grades into arid climates. In the Great Dividing Rangemarker and to the south of about Bega, this climate type grades into warm temperate climates (Köppen Cfb) as at Guyramarker and Katoombamarker, in New South Wales.

This zone contains the only regions where soils are not acutely deficient in phosphorus, as well as the heaviest rainfall south of the Tropic of Capricorn, making it prime agricultural country, centred on towns such as Coffs Harbourmarker, Graftonmarker, Kempseymarker, Port Macquariemarker, Tamworthmarker, and Moreemarker.

Many of Australia's major cities are also in this climate zone, including Sydneymarker, Brisbanemarker, Gold Coast, Canberramarker, Newcastlemarker and Wollongongmarker.

Variations in Australia

There is considerable variation in climate within this zone. Annual rainfall on the coast can reach as high as 2,000 mm (80 inches) in favourable locations and is generally above 1,000 mm (40 inches). However, because most of the heaviest two- and three-day rainfalls in the world occur in this coastal zone as a result of east coast lows forming to the north of a large high pressure system, there can be great variation in rainfall from year to year. At Lismoremarker in the centre of this zone, the annual rainfall can range from less than 550 mm (22 inches) in 1915 to more than 2,780 mm (110 inches) in 1950. There is usually a distinct summer rainfall maximum that becomes more pronounced moving northwards: in Brisbane the wettest month (February) receives five times the rainfall of the driest (September) hot but not excessive: the average maximum in February is usually around 29 °C (84 °F) and in July around 21 °C (70 °F). Frosts are extremely rare except at higher elevations.

In the Darling Downs and further south, the summer rainfall maximum is less marked and by the time one reaches Dubbo, there are actually on average more rainy days in the winter months. Temperatures here display much greater seasonal variation, with summers being generally very hot with maxima of around 32 °C (90 °F) and frosts being common during dry winters: at Mitchellmarker the temperature has reached as low as -9.4 °C (15 °F).

North of the Cfa climate zone there is a zone centred upon Rockhamptonmarker and extending up to the Atherton Tableland of Köppen Cwa climate. This has a very pronounced dry winter with often negligible rainfall between June and October, and winter temperatures generally only slightly below 18°C, above which one would have a tropical savanna, or Aw, climate.


Some areas of Europe, such as parts of northeastern inland of the Iberian Peninsulamarker, northern Italy, coastal Croatiamarker, coastal Sloveniamarker, much of Serbiamarker and Kosovomarker, on the black sea coast, north-western Bulgariamarker, parts of Romaniamarker, southernmost Ukrainemarker, have summers too warm (>22°C in the warmest month) to qualify as oceanic, no freezing month, and enough summer precipitation to preclude their classification as Mediterranean. These narrow bands of climate are classified as humid sub-tropical Cfa.

In the Azores, some islands have this climate, with very amene and rainy winters (> 13°C), hot summers (> 22 or 23°C) but with no dry season during the warmest period, which means that they can be classified neither as oceanic, nor as Mediterranean, but only as subtropical humid climate, as with Corvo Islandmarker.


Notable Cities in North & South America with Humid subtropical climates
Notable Cities outside North & South America with Humid subtropical climates
    • (Cwa) Humid subtropical climate with a dry winter.
    • (Cfa/Cfb) Humid subtropical climate/Oceanic climate is a borderline case, however.

Charts of Selected Cities with Humid Subtropical Climates

Northern hemisphere

Southern hemisphere


  1. The Times Atlas of the World (1993). Times Books ISBN 0-7230-0492-7.
  2. Climate in Azerbaijan [1].

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