Does the weather change when you cross the Missouri River?

The Missouri River is rumored to change the weather. But is it true?/Photo by staff

According to local lore, there is a difference in the weather north and south of the Missouri River. In general, folks tend to think it’s a bit warmer south and it snows slightly more in the north. But is it true? “There can be (a difference),” says Joe Lauria, meteorologist for Fox 4.

But it’s not always—it’s sometimes.

For instance, Lauria points out that the south side, which he tends to describe as mainly as below Interstate 70, was drier this past July than the north side. “It was a stark comparison, really,” Lauria says. “The dryness impacted the highs. Where the terrain is lush and green, it doesn’t heat up as much. Where it’s brown and dormant, there’s a higher potential of hotter air.”

July was mild at Kansas City International Airport in the Northland, the official weather reporting station for Kansas City—only .9 degrees above average. “In the big scheme of things, nothing too crazy,” Lauria says. “On the south side, though, Olathe Executive Airport had temperatures 3.1 degrees above average, a significant difference from north to south.” 

The average high for July at KCI was 89 degrees. The average high for July at Olathe Executive Airport was 91.8 degrees, and the average high for Olathe Industrial Airport toward Gardner was a half-degree higher. 

What does this mean during the colder months? Snow totals can vary, Lauria says. According to, which uses data collected over the past thirty-nine years, there are an average of one hundred and three rainy days per year at KCI, and snow averages 18.6 inches. This data can most closely be compared to data collected over the past thirty years from Lee’s Summit in the south. There, the annual number of rainy days comes in at eighty-three, and the average annual snowfall is just over a foot. 

Other stories from “Kansas City Geographic”

The stories behind 16 of Kansas City’s most notable murals

Five Unexpected Things Hidden In Kansas City’s Massive Caves

How The Once-Crumbling Waldo Tower Became A Beloved Local Landmark

Arrowhead Tailgate Parties, Mapped

Here’s What Happened To Every Landmark On A 1962 Map Of Country Club Plaza

7 Great Guided Tours To Take In Kansas City

What are the ‘Tension Envelopes’ and ‘Western Auto’ signs that define the KC skyline anyway?

Social Media

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to our newsletters

Kansas City magazine keeps readers updated on the latest news in twice-weekly newsletter. 

On Tuesdays, Dish brings you food news and our critic picks. 

On Thursdays, The Loop offers exclusive news reports and our curated events picks.