Des Moines

Just like much of the Midwest in the United States, Des Moines, Iowa observes a humid continental climate. This particular climate zone represents very warm summers and chilly winters. Precipitation is distributed evenly yearly, most of it occurring in the summer months. The normal annual precipitation amount for Des Moines is 34.72 inches, whereas the normal annual temperature is 50 degrees.


Winters are fairly short, cold, and snowy. Normal high temperatures at Des Moines average just over 30 degrees. Winter nights are especially chilly, as temperatures settle to near ten degrees above zero. Numerous days of freezing weather is common. Arctic air masses sometimes sweep into Des Moines and its surrounding areas from Canada in the winter season. Those types of cold waves can knock temperatures into the single digits as daytime highs and sub-zero digits as lows.

Precipitation is mostly in the form of snow. Sometimes low pressure systems from the southern United States can deliver blizzards and big-time snowstorms in Des Moines. In the winter alone, normal snowfall amounts hover around 30 inches. General precipitation amounts average three inches from December through February.


Des Moines can be notable for rapidly changing patterns in the spring. Temperatures can rise or fall 40 degrees in only 24 hours. A combination of warm and cool air masses can contribute to severe thunderstorms with tornadoes, hail, and strong winds mainly in April and May. Early heavy spring snows can still be observed in March. Normal high temperatures range from near 50 degrees in March to around 75 degrees in May; normal low temperatures stretch from approximately 30 degrees in March to near 50 degrees in May. Monthly precipitation amounts in the spring average four inches.


Thanks to the Gulf of Mexico that pushes the moist air toward Des Moines, this capital city often experiences warm, humid days in the summertime. High temperatures are basically in the 80s; low temperatures in the 60s. There are some hot days observed, as 90-degree heat occasionally strike Des Moines. The high humidity levels can make the hottest days extremely uncomfortable.

Summertime precipitation can include thunderstorms with large hail, tornadoes, or high winds. Summer is said to be the wettest season, as more than 12 inches of rain typically falls in Des Moines. Flash floods from periods of heavy rain sometimes occur, as prolonged periods of dry weather can lead to droughts in some years.


Autumn is similar to spring because temperatures rise and fall rather quickly in a short period of time. High temperatures in September are in the 70s, and in the mid 40s in November. Crisp nights will be in store in autumn, as low temperatures will typically be in the 50s in September and the 30s in November. The date for the first killing frost usually falls in mid October. Precipitation amounts average 2.50 inches throught the autumn season.

Des Moines does has it share of four distinct seasons. And that is typical across the Midwest. With noticable changing weather patterns all year long, Des Moines enjoys a climate that ranges from cold, snowy winters to warm, rainy summers.

Note: Temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature and precipitation data is based on the 1971-2000 climate period from the Des Moines International Airport.


National Weather Service – Des Moines, IA