Storms, rain, cloudy skies, and more can put a damper on Independence Day fireworks. But what weather conditions make a perfect firework show? Let’s break it down:


Clouds are not ideal for a firework show. They can limit how much you can see as well as reflect city lights making the fireworks less vibrant. Dark and clear skies are the best viewing conditions.


Fireworks are housed in water-proof bags inside sealed canisters. This means a little rain won’t hinder the show (though it may not be a viewer favorite). Rain can reduce visibilities making the fireworks not as crisp. Lightning poses a threat to anyone outdoors, thus may result in a cancellation or delay in the program. Too dry of conditions (ie. drought, very low humidity levels) can also pose a fire hazard.


Here’s one that not many people would think of. Higher humidity levels (that everyone knows and loves in Eastern North Carolina) means there is more water particles in the air. This can make the fireworks seem more dull in color.


Calm winds will hinder the process of clearing the smoke from previous fireworks. Too much wind can become a fire hazard. A nice, light breeze will allow the smoke to clear without posing a hazard. Mike McArthur (Edenton Fireworks Organizer / Pyro-technician) says wind can also distort the specialty fireworks. As the firework travels up and explodes, the bottom of the firework may be displaced from the top, due to the wind, and may distort the effect of the firework. Wind will also determine how high the fireworks can go in the sky. Unless you’re in a clear open field, you may have to get the fireworks over a certain height (say a treeline) in order for the viewers to enjoy. McArthur adds that wind direction determines where firework debris will fall. This is watched closely to prevent fire hazards.


A high pressure system usually provides the air with stable air (sometimes known as a temperature inversion). This is when you have cooler air near the surface with warmer air aloft. This kind of set up can create a “lid” on the atmosphere and the smoke from the fireworks may linger in the way of the display.

Getting the perfect fireworks display at the right time and day of the year may be nearly impossible. Hopefully a few weather conditions will line up in your favor.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day!

~ Meteorologist Candice Boling

{Information and Photos courtesy:,, NOAA,,, Mike McArthur-Fabulous Fourth Fireworks Organization-Edenton }