What is the difference between weather and climate?

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Weather and climate differ on both the scale of time and area.  Weather is the condition of the atmosphere for a generalized area at any given point in time.  Weather usually is talked about over the time span of a day or a few days.  It can be simple events like a clear day, or rain/precipitation, or even severe events like a hurricane or tornado.  Climate, on the other hand, can be thought of as the average of weather conditions over a long period of time.  You wouldn't refer to the weather of a single day as the climate for the day, but weather patterns over the course of several years or decades could be used to assess how the climate has changed over time (a warming period, for example).  Climate also generally refers to larger areas on the Earth's surface.  You wouldn't talk about the weather for the entire US for any given day because it would vary too much from area to area.  But you could talk about the general climate for the entire US (if it was a particularly cold winter in the US, for example).

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