What is the Weather Like in Idaho?
If you live outside of Idaho and are asked to conjure up an image of what the state might be like during the winter, you are probably going to imagine a pitched white blizzard assaulting the land for months on end. However, despite the state's close proximity to the Earth's north pool and its shared border with Canada (It may be small, but it is there), you are relatively far from the truth. Idaho does have severe snow storms from time to time, but nothing so serious and certainly not every year. Most of the years, Idaho is a wonderfully sunny place, with cool breezes to interrupt a pleasant warmth every now and again.
Idaho is certainly not a frozen wasteland come winter. Snow does come, but it melts quickly and only hangs around on the mountains for any long period of time. Still, Idaho being one of the less populous areas in the United States, not all of the roads will be quickly cleared of whatever snow does fall, so you will have to be prepared to do some snow driving. The interstates and larger roads should be handled by professional snowplows, but the farther you get from a busy road, the thicker the snow will get. As long as you are careful, there is usually nothing to fear. Simply take your time on snow packed roads. Everyone else will as well, so there shouldn't be any need to hurry. You don't want to be one of the crazy people hurtling along at 70 miles an hour when there is an inch of snow on the road.
There is an odd effect to watch out for known as "the inversion." When clouds are particularly thick, the mountains and hills will prevent them from moving on as clouds do, meaning there will sometimes be several days on end where you will see no blue sky or sun's rays. This phenomenon is mostly limited to Boise, the capital of Idaho, but it can be found elsewhere in the state. The Salt Lake Valley in Utah experiences a similar kind of inversion, with a smog developing that will be trapped in the valley for weeks on end.
Winter brings a ton of fun things you can do. That snow that sticks to the mountains and hills makes from some excellent skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. And of course, there are always snowmen and snow angels to be made, and when there is particularly heavy snowfall, you might find yourself ambitious enough to attempt the construction of an igloo. Just be ready for it to collapse as soon as the sun decides it wants to show off its rays.
When spring comes, the snow doesn't necessarily stop. It will almost always stick around the mountains for quite a while, but until the temperature really gets up into the 70s and 80s, you will still probably see the occasional snow storm. Again, don't worry. These snows will stay on the ground for even shorter periods of time. Don't let your guard down. Even a tiny pinch of snow can be dangerous on the road.
On the opposite end of the seasons, Idaho can really heat up. Summer can result in many days in a row of hundred degree weather. Still, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat. There is always shade to be had and when the sun dips below the horizon nights are quite cool and refreshing. The biggest trouble to come with summer is wildfires. Idaho can be very dry, and even when campers and hikers are being careful, fires can start and wheel out of control. Populated areas will almost always be safe, but much of the state is forests, which can burn for a very long time. Usually, the biggest problem you will have to deal with caused by the fires is smoke. Like the clouds get trapped in the winter time, smoke will also be trapped by the mountains.
Come fall, orange and yellow are in full force. If you love seeing the change in trees getting ready for the sparseness of winter, you are going to get a really kick out of Idaho. Things won't start to get really chilly until later in the months, usually late September or October, but when the temperature does start to drop, it can be significant.
During the colder parts of the years, you will want to be careful if you are spending a lot of time out of doors. If you decide to go camping for the weekend, make sure you have a heavy jacket, a good tent, and a serious sleeping bag, rated for lower temperatures than you might expect. Frostbite and hypothermia can sneak up on you very easily, and you don't want to be caught with your pants down, especially if snow starts to roll in.
Idaho is a big state, and though weather patterns will be fairly consistent from place to place, it can still vary depending on where you are. Just like Idaho, Canada isn't the frozen wasteland you have been told (For the most part, the farther north you go the colder things get), but the closer you get to the border the more you are going to wish you had brought a jacket. On the other end of the temperature spectrum, you may find yourself going without a coat at all on certain days during the winter if you are far enough south. It can still get very cold down there, approaching or below freezing. Never go unprepared for a chilly night.
Overall, Idaho is a very pleasant place to live. The seasons are almost always mild and only branch into the extremes on rare occasions, which is true of most places outside of the Garden of Eden. You could certainly do far worse for weather. If you are considering a move to Idaho, give the state a visit, and enjoy the wonderful climate. I'm sure you will find yourself falling in love with the progress of the seasons.