Americans/Canadians* are your states further divided by meteorological 'boundaries'?

*Also including other ‘vast’ countries with differing weather patterns.

I live in Australia in the state of Victoria. Vic is only a small state, but is further divided into ‘meteorological’ areas. In this state, you might live in Gippsland (west, south or east), the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, South West or Alpine region (these are examples, not the complete list). These areas don’t have official boundaries (like a county might do) but they’re recognised well enough that if you say, ‘I grew up in the Mallee’ or ‘I live in south Gippsland’ people will have a good idea from whence you hail.

Other Australian states have similar systems.

Do the US/Canadian states do the same?

*Also including other ‘vast’ countries with differing weather patterns.

I live in Australia in the state of Victoria. Vic is only a small state, but is further divided into ‘meteorological’ areas. In this state, you might live in Gippsland (west, south or east), the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, South West or Alpine region (these are examples, not the complete list). These areas don’t have official boundaries (like a county might do) but they’re recognised well enough that if you say, ‘I grew up in the Mallee’ or ‘I live in south Gippsland’ people will have a good idea from whence you hail.

Other Australian states have similar systems.

Do the US/Canadian states do the same?


Hey, I beat ya to it running coach. :smiley:

Hmm, I hadn’t really thought about the lines being climate-based. But maybe they are?

I’m Australian, grew up in the Top End and lived in Vic (Melb and Bendigo) before moving to California 10 years ago. Here, we have the political divisions, counties, which make good shorthand descriptors for regions. But overall I think the divisions are more geological.

There’s the coast, obvs, which is actually relatively similar, climatically, along its enormous length, the main reason for which is the marine layer, the fog bank that rolls inland to the coastal range most days. (That’s what waters the redwoods.)

There’s the Central Valley, the breadbasket of the country, where agriculture predominates, summers are hot and dry, and winds can be strong. Again, it’s a vast length, but it does vary in temperature from south to north.

The Sierra Nevada mountains catch the clouds. The rain and snow that falls on them eventually irrigate the Central Valley and provide drinking water for just about the whole state. There’s alpine meadows, lakes and forests on the eastern border of CA, along with high desert. Or just plain desert, when you get to Death Valley in the south.

Of course, within these regions, there’s smaller microclimates. But I think the shape of the state in cross-section is what causes the differences. Something which, as a flatlander, took a little getting used to.

Not spam. Beneath my notice.


Neither had I to be honest, but got curious about why different parts of the various states had adopted local names for their regions. So stuck Mallee, Gippsland and Wimmera into google, and BOOM…yep, they’re meteorological divisions. Who’da thunk it?

Thanks for that. Are the names of the various regions recognisable to someone NOT from that area? I’m sure Death Valley is, but would someone from out of state have heard of Central Valley and immediately know where it was?


The Central Valley is pretty hard to miss! If anyone’s done any amount of travel in CA, they’ve at least seen it.

Colorado is divided by geography. There does tend to be different weather in the various areas, but that’s because of the geography.

One area that most people will recognize by name (although without realizing it) is South Park. That’s a real place in Colorado–the TV show borrowed the name. A “park” is a broad valley between mountain ranges.

Are we counting Spain as ‘vast’?

We’re not that big sq-km wise, and of course our provinces are even smaller, but yes, the provinces have their own weather divisions. Navarre is average in size and has something like 10 official microclimates (we joke “micro being the operative part!”); the old merindades (an administrative unit which doesn’t officially exist any more) were divided along lines which match the biggest weather areas. Those weather areas are also different in other ways: one mountainous (Pamplona), one half mountain half flatland (Aoiz or Sanguesa, it changed name in the 15th century), two river valley / flatland (Olite and Tudela), one hilly (Estella). The hilly areas have an Atlantic climate, mediterranean-with-snow on the mountains and mediterranean-continental on the lowlands.

Huesca and Lleida follow similar patterns. Some of the provinces which are on the northern coast or fully on the central mesa have less weather variation, but the locals will still think you’re nuts if you claim that the rainy side of the hills is good for raising the same crops as the downwind side.

Maybe? Arkansas has the hillier land in the north that isn’t as good for crops. That led to a division strong enough that we in the north basically ignored the slavery issue. Our accents are completely different–closer to those of Appalachia. That said, there’s no really a name for us–you can refer to the specific mountains, but both exist outside of Arkansas as well.

But do those regions have different official/unofficial names?

As I mentioned, here in Victoria (which isn’t big by any metric) the state is sort-of divided into regions that have their own specific titles. For example, if I drive directly east of Melbourne, the capital, I will be in Gippsland, and depending upon how far I go before I hit the border into NSW, I will be in west, central or east Gippsland. I’m still in Victoria though. There’s no official demarcation point, just a vague thing really. But I’m definitely in Gippsland.

South Carolina - the craziest state in the USA, for our non-US Dopers - is divided into

Low Country: The area of floodplain and ancient sandbar toward the coast. Inhumanly hot and humid for most of the year. Merely unpleasantly warm the rest. Flat as ten flat things. Dig down two feet anywhere and there’s grey sand and pluff mud. To develop any buildings one must build the land up first. Rivers come to the sea here and there’s so many swamps and wetlands it’s ludicrous. Home to so many alligators we call them ‘speed bumps’ and every county government has a team devoted to relocating the damn things. Some people break the northern part of this region into the ‘PeeDee region’. Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach (known locally as the ‘redneck Riviera’) fit into the Low Country.

Midlands: The are in the middle of the state housing Columbia - the capitol - Warm but much less humid. Has some hills. Rivers come down from or flow through here. Good connections here to Atlanta and Charlotte. Features government and college sports. Also, a nice - though smallish - zoo. Weaker on the alligators, though.

Piedmont or Upstate: The part of Appalachia that reaching into South Carolina. Hilly, even smallish mountains. Features cooler weather - though still not cold, it’s still South Carolina - and Clemson University so God help me, more college sports. Greenville and Spartanburg are the major cities. Features some real manufacturing power. No alligators that I am aware of.

Really, we worry about alligators a lot, here. Stupid top-level predators.

Before some Canadian gets his or her ire up, Canada has provinces, not states. And you don’t want to see a Canadian with his ire up! :slight_smile:

I live in CA, so we have almost every meteorological boundary you can think of. In fact, just the Bay Area/NorCal is such that there can be a 30 deg F difference in temperature within less than an hour’s drive. The East Bay hills (Diablo Range) are mostly treeless and grassy. The West Bay hills (Santa Cruz Mountains) are forested, often with dense redwood growth.

West Virginia.

We have a number of distinct areas both meteoeologically, geographically and cultural.

We have a major North-South divide. The north is more German and Italian with a Midlands accent. The South has a more southern accent and is largely Scotch Irish.

The different geographic areas are the Northern Panhandle, basically it’s the Ohio River Valley.

We have the Allegheny Plateau. It’s far enough north to receive lake effect snow, but low enough in elevation to keep the temps relatively low. Snowfall tends to be around 24 inches a year. A great deal of precipitation and cloudy days. The summer temps tend to be in the mid 80s and temps in the low 90s are not uncommon. Subzero temp are rare, but occur once or twice a winter.

The Allegheny Highlands are the mountain ridge. Large amounts of precipitation and cold. Snowfall is up to 180 inches a year and summer temps rarely get out of the low 80s in the summer. Subzero temps are relatively common in the winter.

The Southern Coalfields tend to have more ice storms and their snow comes in large bursts rather than staying around. Few if any bodies of water develop thick ice layers. Temps are marginally warmer than the Allegheny Plateau.

The Eastern Panhandle tends to be much milder and its weather resembles Washinhton DC. Less precipitation and warmer weather.

In addition, we have lots of smaller divisions that are common in speech. The Lake District, the Potomac Highlands, etc. For me, I grew up in the Allegheny Highlands, but now live on the Plateau. In common speech, I tell people that I’m from the Mountains, specify the county, and now live in North-Central West Virginia and specify the town.

One Canadian division, somewhat meteorological, cuts across the majority of the country without paying attention to any other boundaries: the tree line. North of that line, the climate isn’t warm enough to support trees, so they don’t grow.

New Mexico has large expanses of relatively flat desert with a number of mountain ranges scattered throughout. Our meteorological patterns are often related to altitude. The desert averages 4000-5000 feet (1200-1500 m) above sea level but we have quite a few mountain peaks over 10,000 feet (3000 m).

I live in Rio Rancho, a suburb of Albuquerque. The Sandia mountains are a small range running north-south on the east side of Albuquerque. The Foot Hills are the easternmost neighborhoods of Albuquerque and get more rain (and snow in the winter), as do the East Mountains (the eastern slopes of the Sandias). The Foot Hills are over 1000 feet (300 m) higher than the Rio Grande valley which runs through the middle of the city.

We are currently in our “monsoon” season and isolated thunderstorms arise almost every day. I can see four separate mountain ranges from my town and in the afternoon I can watch cumulus clouds build up over each of them. The thunderstorms also move across the desert. With our wide open skies it’s not unusual to see more than one isolated storm moving along.

In the winter the temperature can be above freezing here in town but below freezing higher up in the mountains. Sometimes it will snow at the higher elevations and after the clouds move off there will be a very distinct snow line halfway down the slopes. I can drive up into the mountains for winter sports and drive back home where it’s warm and sunny when I’m done.

I think this would apply to more states than not, I grew up in Maryland which at one time had a tourist catchphrase of, “America in Miniature”, the east coast of MD is on the ocean, the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the US, a large water-based economy, central and northern Maryland is farmland and horse country, western Maryland is mountains and lakes, very different areas…

We live in New York, which has many different and distinct areas, most people think of NYC, but NYC and Long Island are on the very south and eastern most part of the state, heading three hours north lands you in the Capital District, (Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Saratoga Springs), north of us is the Adirondack State Park, the largest state park in the country and home of the Adirondack Mountains, even further up to the Canadian line is the North Country, an area isolated by the mountains…heading west from the Cap District puts you in the Finger Lakes region, a series of large glacial lakes, and further west is western NY, areas that border the Great Lakes (Ontario to the north, Erie to the west) and is separated from Canada by the Niagara River, home to the famous falls…

I think just about any state in the US can lay claim to very different, non-bordered areas…

US states that have a significant area on the leeward side of one of the Great Lakes (e.g., northwestern Indiana, the northern portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as well as the western portion of the Lower Peninsula, western New York) tend to have clear meteorological boundaries in the wintertime, due to lake-effect snow. Anyone who knows those areas knows that they regularly get dumped on by snow, while nearby areas (which aren’t regularly in the lake effect snow bands) get very little.

Anyone from Kansas want to chime in? :slight_smile: