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Great Plains

Weather

Astonishing but true: the Plains are not completely flat. Rolling hills characterize Missouri’s Ozark Plateau, while South Dakota’s Black Hills and some spots in southern Oklahoma sport real mountains. Another bumpy exception is the convoluted, below-the-plains Badlands of the Dakotas.

Thunderstorms, drought, blizzards and hailstorms all brew with equal abandon in these parts. As Dorothy can attest, tornadoes are the region’s wildest weather manifestation and if you hear a tornado warning, heed it. They don’t call this ‘tornado alley’ for nothing.

Winter can be painfully cold (well below 0°F/–17°C) in the north and summer can be painfully hot (above 90°F/32°C) everywhere. Spring and fall are mild, with an average maximum of about 50°F (10°C), so these are good seasons to visit. Many attractions cut back hours, or close up altogether, in the winter.