Weather plays a major part in the Animal Crossing series, changing daily and reflecting the seasons. Notable weather changes include winter snowstorms, late summer rainstorms and the clear skies of early summer. Weather is mentioned by villagers, influenced by the flora and fauna in the player's town, and, most importantly, reflected by the seasons and the time of year, greatly enhancing gameplay.
Weather consists of two main features: precipitation and cloud coverage. These aspects are present constantly, whilst other, more unusual features add to the variation of the game.
Precipitation comes in two forms in the Animal Crossing series: rain and snow. Snow falls only in the winter months, with rain occurring during the rest of the year, though more often during spring and the late summer rainy season. Precipitation can change from hour to hour, but will often last for much of the day, easing off as the day progresses.
Rain falls throughout the year, in all four seasons. Rain, like snow, waters wilted plants without the need for a watering can. Rain is reflected in the town's music with a light ringing noise, in Animal Crossing , only one tune plays during rainy weather, no matter the hour. Villagers who are outside when rain is falling carry umbrellas and might also comment on the weather. After a rainy day, it is common to find gyroids around the player's town. Villagers may also comment on the weather.
In City Folk, rain can be heard falling on the roofs of homes when inside them.
If it is raining in the City in City Folk, the town will also be affected by this rain, even if it is a clear day – plants will be automatically hydrated and gyroids can be found underground the next day. This only works if the player returns from the city after visiting it in the rain, and will not work if they simply save the game and quit when in the city.
Occasionally, thunderstorms can occur during rainy days. On rare occasions, lightning can be seen. Thunderstorms are purely cosmetic and otherwise act identical to normal rain.
Snow falls from mid-to-late November until early-to-late February (or late May until late-August in the Southern Hemisphere in Animal Crossing: New Horizons), settling in early December, with complete coverage by the 11th of December (10th in Animal Crossing and the 11th of June in the Southern Hemisphere in New Horizons). Settled snow covers all grassy areas, buildings and trees. Snowballs appear around town every day in winter, and can be rolled into Snow People. Additionally, in New Leaf and New Horizons, snowflakes will fly around town and can be caught with a net. When snowing, town music varies slightly, with sleigh bell sounds integrated into each tune. Like rain, snow hydrates wilted flowers without the need of a watering can. Villagers who are outside during winter may talk about the abundance of snow or the cold.
On the 10th of December (or the 10th of June in a Southern Hemisphere island in New Horizons), heavy snowfall can be sighted, leading to snow sticking to the ground the next day. Due to a bug in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, on certain calendar patterns where the 10th falls on a Saturday, it will not snow due to it conflicting with the Fishing Tourney.
- Winter – Rain falls very infrequently in late winter.
- Spring – Moderate rainfall occurs in the spring. Thunderstorms can occur, but it is rare.
- Summer – Summer has a great contrast in rain levels; mid and late summer is completely dry, with clear skies and no rain. Early summer consists of heavy thunderstorms and rainy weather spanning days.
- Autumn – Low to moderate levels of rainfall occur in Autumn. Thunderstorms taper off after the first month of September.
Effect on wildlife
Rain and snow influences the presence of insects and fish.
One fish, the rare Coelacanth, appears only when it rains or snows – this unusual behavior makes it even harder to catch.
Rain prevents butterflies, many varieties of beetles, the Scorpion, and the Tarantula from appearing even when they are in-season. However, some bugs only appear when it rains, such as the Snail. Cicadas can still be found when it is raining, but they make no noise.
The Dung Beetle is the only insect that is dependent on snow to exist – it appears exclusively when snow is on the ground, the reason being that it can be found rolling around snowballs on the ground.
There are many different levels of Cloud Coverage. These levels can potentially change every hour, and range from clear to complete. In the original Animal Crossing, the layout of the game ensured that the sky was only visible at one occasion, on the train, where it was always cloudy. This means that the paragraphs about cloud coverage only apply to games following Animal Crossing. Cloud coverage changes abruptly in Wild World, but in City Folk changes gradually in the last ten minutes before the hour.
Clouds always travel from the north of the town towards the sea, somewhat contradicting the fluttering of the town flag and the floating pattern of balloons. Clouds appear white in the day, unless rain bearing, upon which they are grey. Clouds at night are a darker shade of grey. Cloud coverage gives an indication as to what the weather will be like in the coming hours. Dark, thick clouds usually signify rain, whereas light cloud usually means that the skies will be clear later on.
Clouds in Wild World consist entirely of oval-shapes, and are bright white. They can be viewed on the upper screen of the Nintendo DS. Clouds in City Folk are less regular in shape and color, and so appear more varied. They can be viewed on the horizon or by pressing the 'up' button on the Wii remote. This rolls the screen up so that the sky dominates the view.
There are six varieties of cloud coverage, which affect various, minor aspects of gameplay. For example, the brightness of a room, whether lights are on or not, and the comments of villagers. Here is a list and brief description of the six cloud densities.
- Clear: No clouds in the sky. The sky appears bright blue, or at night, full of stars.
- Wisp: Similar to clear, but with faint, infrequent specks of white cloud trailing across the sky.
- Light: Noticeable clouds in the sky, dispersed but still frequent.
- Moderate: Substantial cloud cover, lowered level of brightness.
- Dense: Packed clouds with gaps in coverage. Low level of brightness and lowered visibility.
- Complete (1): Heavy and steel grey with only small breaks in cloud. Always bearing rain. Low visibility, horizon appears dull and foggy.
- Complete (2): During a thunderstorm, or when snow is falling, the clouds will have even less breaks in them. Low visibility, horizon appears dull and foggy.
At the start of each new major weather system, a note is left on the bulletin board to inform the Player of its imminent arrival.
- Snow Warning – Two days before snow settles on the ground, a notice appears to notify the Player. The notice appears in early December.
- New Year Weather – A bulletin containing information on the following month's snow levels, temperature and the possibility of ponds freezing over. The notice is posted in mid-January.
- Summer Forecast – Headed as 'Weather Forecast', this notice appears on the first Wednesday of May. It reveals the Summer forecast, stating when the rainy season will start, and when the temperature should start to pick up.
- Meteor Shower – Although not a weather system, this note appears before a meteor shower labelled as a 'Weather Warning'. Meteor showers arrive at random times in the year, starting at 7PM and lasting well into the night. These do not appear in Wild World.
In addition, weather can be forecasted, providing a short-term summary of the overall conditions of the following day. If the Player owns a television, it will, at certain times of the day, display the weather, using symbols such as a sun, cloud or raindrop. This forecast is always correct, but is limited to generalizing the next day's weather. It cannot, therefore, give hourly predictions.
Other Features and Facts
- On nights where the sky is clear, meteor showers can occur. The shooting stars can be wished upon by pressing the 'A' button when it flashes through the sky. It is only possible to do this when holding no items. In games prior to New Horizons, this will result in a present being mailed to the player, containing a spotlight item. In New Horizons, star fragments will appear on the beach the next day.
- Rainbows can be seen very occasionally in the sky, as they only appear when the sky has cleared suddenly after many hours of heavy rain or snowfall. The rainbow fills the sky, brightening as the hour progresses, until it peaks after thirty minutes. Within the hour, it disappears. During a rainbow, the chances of finding 100 Bells in trees is increased. They appear towards the end of the day, but not at night. In New Leaf it is possible to see a double rainbow.
- In both Wild World and City Folk, the sky clears when a fireworks show is due to take place. Meteors only appear on clear nights as well, and are accompanied by a twinkling noise. In New Leaf, it will be sunny the whole day when the Fireworks show is set to take place.
- In the city area in City Folk, the weather is often different to that in the Player's town. Snow does not settle in the city, but does on the bus that drives to and from it. If it is raining in the city, the animals there will carry umbrellas.
- Confetti falls continuously from the sky during the Festivale in City Folk and New Leaf. On this day, the sky tends to be very clear, as any snow fall would conflict with the fall of confetti.
- In early April, trees will grow cherry blossoms, and those cherry blossoms will float through the sky, much like confetti does during Festivale (see above). The sky is clear on these days. In New Horizons, they can be caught with a net and used for DIY recipes.