When you think of a dry climate in the United States, what state comes to mind? Did you say Arizona? Arizona certainly has a dry, desert climate. It is at low altitude and is warm and dry most of the year. But did you know dry climates can also be found in high, mountain areas? In the United States, Colorado is considered a semi-arid climate, even though it is cold and snowy in the winter. It also has the highest altitude of any state in the continental U.S.
An arid area is one that gets no more than 12 inches of rain each year. Arid areas are usually deserts. Few plants, animals and people can survive here. Semi-arid areas are ones that get enough rainfall to allow grasses to grow. Colorado, for example, has miles and miles of prairie-land. With irrigation water crops can grow here.
Fun Facts about Dry Climates
- The hottest temperatures in the world – up to 136 degrees Fahrenheit – are recorded in arid regions, such as the deserts of Africa.
- Some arid areas, such as Atacama Desert in Chile, South America, get less than ½ inch of rain annually.
- Australia’s outback is a semi-arid region.
- Sometimes semi-arid regions are caused by a mountain, which blocks warm, moist air. Denver, Colorado sits east of the Rocky Mountains. The mountains block moisture from reaching the city.
Dry Climates Vocabulary
- Altitude: how high an area sits from sea level
- Continental: on the continent; Hawaii and Alaska are not considered part of the continental U.S.
- Prairie-land: miles of grassy plains
- Irrigation: artificial watering from canals, reservoirs and sprinklers
- Moisture: water
Learn All about Dry Climates
This is the best video we found for kids to learn all about Dry Climates:
An educational video that discusses about the characteristics of places that have dry climates.
Dry Climates Q&A
Question: What other areas of the U.S. have dry climates?
Answer: Much of the West is arid or semi-arid. Northern Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Southern Utah and even parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana could be considered semi-arid.