The USA is a very large country, so it has several different climate zones. The coldest regions are in the north and north-east, where much snow falls in winter. The south has a subtropical climate. Hot winds blowing from the Gulf of Mixico often bring typhoons. The climate along the Pacific coast is much warmer than that of the Atlantic coast. The region around the Great Lakes is known for its changeable weather. In general, the climate in North America is much colder than in Europe and the average annual temperature of New York, for example, is 11°C.
In the East the principal trees are spruce, poplar, birch and fir. The Northern Appalachians and the upper Great Lakes region are dominated by mixed forests of birch, beech, maple, hemlock, and pine. Much of southern Florida and the lower Mississippi River valley are covered by marsh grasses. In the Western mountains on the lower slopes are open woodlands. The warm-winter desert areas of Southwest support much cactus. The Pacific Northwest has dense coniferous forests with fir, hemlock, and spruce among the principal trees. Northwestern California has dense stands of giant redwoods (sequoias) along the coast.
Throughout Midwest and in much of Texas the native vegetation has been largely removed to make way for agriculture.
The animal population of the United States was both numerous and prolific in aboriginal times. Since the advent of the white man, with his firearms and with his need of land for agriculture, the animal population has been greatly reduced. Whole species have been exterminated, or preserved in other than the wild state.
The northeastern forests abounded in animals of all kinds and sizes. Deer, recoons, skunks, grey and red squirrels, black bears, rabbits and hares, beavers, minks, and moles were common. Great flocks of birds were present, including migratory wild fowl. Reptiles included turtles, salamanders, and several species of snakes.
In the forests of the Southeast opossums abounded and along the coasts were alligators and sea cows. Crocodiles were present in the extreme south of Florida. Great numbers of large birds, such as the flamingo, the whooping crane, were common in the swamps and marshes.
The Interior Plains had vast herds of grazing animals, especially bisons (“buffaloes”) and antelopes. The higher mountains of the West were the home of the mountain sheep, mountain goat, grizzly bear, marmot, and rock rabbit.
The deserts have a highly specialized world, equipped to avoid heat and reduce water losses to a minimum, like the sidewinder rattlesnake, which keeps much of its body off the ground to avoid contact with that searing surface.
Climate in Canada
Canada has four distinct seasons all of which occur right across the country although their arrival times vary. The single most significant factor in climate, and even day-today weather, is latitude. In just a few hours travelling north by road, a drop (sometimes a considerable one) in temperature can often be felt.
The warmest area of Canada is along the US border. It’s no accident that nearly everybody lives in this southernmost region. The overall warmest areas of the country are British Columbia’s south and central coast and southern Ontario particularly around the Niagara Peninsula. These districts have the longest summers and the shortest winters.
July and August are the warmest months across the country and generally they are reasonably dry. Along the US border, summer temperatures are usually in the mid and upper 20°C. Each year there are a few days in the 30°C Manitoba through to central British Columbia gets the hottest summer temperatures as well as the most sunshine. The west and east coasts are very wet with 2500 mm of precipitation a year but much of that is through the winter months. The prairies are fairly dry all year but south-eastern Canada including Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto can be quite humid in summer and damp in winter.
Ontario and Quebec have warm summers without a lot of rain. Southern Ontario can be hot in midsummer. The east coast is generally cooler than the rest of the country and can have more summer rain as well.
Summers in the Yukon and Northwest territories (NWT) can be pleasantly warm and have the added benefit of extremely long daylight hours.
Outside the main cities, anywhere in Canada, nights are cool all year round.
Canadian winters are long. In more than two-thirds of the country the average January temperature is -18°C. The major cities are not consistently this cold but temperatures are generally below freezing. Except in the warmest areas, snowfall can be heavy especially from Toronto east. As a rule of thumb the further north, the more snow. But only to a point, once past the central part of the country, the dry conditions prevent snow fall of major accumulation.