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Weather and climate: What's the difference?

Weather and climate often get misconstrued as the same, but they are vastly different.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Everyone has heard of the terms “weather” and “climate.” However, many people get these terms confused as the same thing. They are vastly different.

Weather is a mix of events that happen each day in our atmosphere. The weather changes over minutes, hours, days and weeks. Factors such as air pressure, temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction determine what the weather is like at any given time or location.

Climate is more broad. While weather refers to short-term changes in the atmosphere, climate describes what the weather is like over a long duration at any given location. To describe climate, you might say what the weather is like for a specific season at any one location. Scientists describe climate as averages of weather factors over a long period, such as 30 years.

Credit: Meteorologist Joe DeCarlo

The weather forecast is triple-digit temperatures and mainly sunny skies, with slight rain chances over the next several weeks. The climate for West Texas, especially during the summer months, is just hot and dry. While rain may occur during the summer in daily weather forecasts, the overall climate is drier in the summer than the spring.

Another way of looking at it, weather tells you what clothes to wear on any given day, while climate tells you which clothes to have in your closet during each season.