Science, Tech, Math › Science What Is the Difference Between Climate and Weather Share Flipboard Email Print John Lund / Getty Images Science Weather & Climate Understanding Your Forecast Storms & Other Phenomena Chemistry Biology Physics Geology Astronomy By Tiffany Means Meteorology Expert B.S., Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, University of North Carolina Tiffany Means is a meteorologist and member of the American Meteorological Society who has worked for CNN, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and more. our editorial process Tiffany Means Updated November 04, 2019 Weather is not the same as climate, although the two are related. The saying "Climate is what we expect, and weather is what we get" is a popular saying that describes their relationship. Weather is "what we get" because it's how the atmosphere is behaving now or will behave in the short-term (in the hours and days ahead). On the other hand, climate tells us how the atmosphere tends to behave over long periods of time (months, seasons, and years). It does this based on weather's day-to-day behavior over a standard period of 30 years. This is why climate is described as "what we expect" in the above quote. So in a nutshell, the main difference between weather and climate is time. Weather Is Day-to-Day Conditions Weather includes sunshine, cloudiness, rain, snow, temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity, winds, severe weather, the approach of a cold or warm front, heat waves, lightning strikes, and a whole lot more. Weather is communicated to us through weather forecasts. Climate Is Weather Trends Over Long Periods of Time Climate also includes many of the above-mentioned weather conditions--but rather than looking at these daily or weekly, their measurements are averaged over months and years. So, instead of telling us how many days this week Orlando, Florida had sunny skies, climate data will tell us on average how many sunny days Orlando experiences per year, how many inches of snow it generally gets during the winter season, or when the first frost occurs so farmers will know when to seed their orange orchards. Climate is communicated to us through weather patterns (El Niño/La Niña, etc.) and seasonal outlooks. Weather vs. Climate Quiz To help make the distinction between weather and climate even more clear, consider the below statements and whether each deals with weather or climate. Weather Climate Today's high was 10 degrees hotter than normal. x Today feels so much hotter than yesterday. x Heavy thunderstorms are expected to move through the area this evening. x New York sees a White Christmas 75 percent of the time. x "I've lived here for 15 years and I've never seen flooding like this." x Forecasting Weather vs. Predicting Climate We've explored how weather differs from climate, but what about differences in predicting the two? Meteorologists actually use similar tools, known as models, for both. The models used to forecast weather incorporate air pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind observations to produce the best estimate of the atmosphere's future conditions. A weather forecaster then looks at this model output data and adds in his personal forecasting know-how is able to figure out the most likely scenario. Unlike weather forecast models, climate models cannot use observations because future conditions aren't known yet. Instead, climate predictions are made using global climate models that simulate how our atmosphere, oceans, and land surfaces might interact. How to Read a Barometer What Is an Overcast Sky? The Jet Stream: What It Is and How It Affects Our Weather A Geography and Overview of Earth's Arctic Region How Climatology Is Different From Meteorology Air Pressure and How It Affects the Weather The Jet Stream Finding an Accurate Weather App How to Use Weather Maps to Make a Forecast Russian Words: Nature and Weather ESL Beginner Dialogue: The Oregon Weather Forecast Weather Satellites: Forecasting Earth's Weather From Space How Is the Weather in Russia? Best Times to Visit Supercomputers: Machine Meteorologists That Help Issue Your Forecast Is There Any Upside to Global Warming? What is Meteorology?