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Humid Continental Climates, Humid Continental (Hot Summer)

mollisols, alfisols, continental interior, hickories, sugar maples

This subregion extends from the East Coast deep into the continental interior, south of the Great Lakes. Located between 35 and 45 degrees north latitude, it includes Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and southern New York, as well as New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and southern Michigan. Portions of neighboring states are also included.

In this climate zone, winters are cold and summers are hot. January temperatures usually average below 0° C (32° F), while July temperatures average between 18° C (65° F) and 24° C (75° F). Summers are humid with thunderstorms that may produce hail or tornadoes. Annual precipitation averages from 500 to 1,000 mm (between 20 and 40 in). Long, hot summer days provide ideal conditions for rapid plant growth.

Most of the region’s soils are alfisols and mollisols, soil types with a high clay content that retains nutrients. Nowhere else on the continent is there such a large area that combines fertile soils with a humid climate.

The ecosystem generated by this climate supports hardwood forests and grasses. Hardwood forests consist primarily of trees possessing broad leaves, including species such as oaks, elms, hickories, sugar maples, aspens, poplars, and cottonwoods. As settlers established farms, the tall, stiff-stemmed wild grasses that originally grew in this climatic region gave way to cultivated crops.

The famous Corn Belt of the Midwest lies within this climatic region. Corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and hay are significant crops. In the Middle Atlantic area, vegetable gardening is found on the sandy soils of the New Jersey and Delaware coastal plain.

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