Pittsburgh Weather

Pittsburgh WeatherIf you’re traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you’ll probably want to bring an umbrella, though you might – or might not – end up using it.

The city known for its steel is also known for its clouds. In fact, Pittsburgh ranks as the fourth cloudiest city in the U.S., behind Seattle, Portland and Buffalo. It has what is considered heavy cloud coverage or “mostly” cloudy skies for roughly 84 percent of the year.

Overcast skies, however, don’t always turn to rain. Pittsburgh’s wettest month is typically May, but its precipitation levels are pretty moderate, with most months falling between two and a half and three and three quarters inches of precipitation.

If you want to avoid temperature extremes, you may not want to travel to Pittsburgh in January or July, its coldest and hottest months. January temperatures average around 38 degrees Fahrenheit, with July’s high averaging about 85.

The months in between can be moderate and pleasant, despite cloudy skies. The heat index can get high in the summer, and the city does average close to 10 days with a high of at least 90 degrees. However, it’s rare that a summer day tops 100, and unusual, though not unheard of, for the cold to dip below zero.

Pittsburgh’s “comfort index,” which factors in heat and humidity, is actually slightly higher than the national average. Its UV index is lower, partly due to the heavy cloud coverage. Remember that cloudy skies, however, do not mean you can dispense with a good sun block. Good skin protection is important to travelers at all times of the year, even to locales that aren’t incredibly sunny.

Wintertime travelers to Pittsburgh will want to pack plenty of warm clothing, though you might want to throw a t-shirt into the luggage as the steel city can sometimes surprise its inhabitants with a balmy day, even in the midst of January.

That means snowfalls, even when they accumulate, don’t always tend to stay on the ground long. The average annual snowfall in Pittsburgh is around 40 inches, much less than the neighboring city of Erie, which is two hours north and part of the snow belt by the Great Lakes. Snowfalls in Pittsburgh tend to be moderate, though blizzards have been known to dump up to two feet of snow on the region. Hail is not a common occurrence, though you will sometimes see graupel, a kind of soft hail. These odd looking snow pellets are actually snowflakes covered in an ice crystal coating.