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definition - Climate_of_South_Carolina

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Climate of South Carolina

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Worldwide climate classifications

South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and winters that are not extremely cold. On average, between 40 inches (1,000 mm) and 80 inches (2,000 mm) of precipitation falls annually across the state. Tropical cyclones contribute to the precipitation during the summer and fall months, while extratropical cyclones contribute to precipitation during the fall, winter, and spring months. Severe weather is a concern across the state during the spring months.



South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen climate classification Cfa), although high elevation areas in the "Upstate" area have less subtropical characteristics than areas on the Atlantic coastline. In the summer, South Carolina is hot and humid with daytime temperatures averaging near 90 °F (32 °C) across most of the state with overnight lows near 70 °F (21 °C). Winter temperatures are much less uniform. Coastal areas of the state have very mild winters with high temperatures averaging near 60 °F (16 °C) and overnight lows near 38 °F (3 °C). Further inland in the piedmont, temperatures average between 55 °F (13 °C) during the day and 34 °F (1 °C) at night.

Monthly Normal High and Low Temperatures For Various South Carolina Cities


Annual average precipitation in South Carolina

While precipitation is abundant the entire year in almost the entire state, the coastline tends to have a slightly wetter summer, while inland March tends to be the wettest month. During the cold season, extratropical cyclones and upslope flow into the piedmont are the main cause of precipitation, while during the summer, tropical cyclones and thunderstorms forming along the sea breeze and in the piedmont are the main contributors to the rainfall. A lee side rain shadow from the Appalachian Mountains lowers annual precipitation across central portions of the state.[2] Inland sections average 40 inches (1,000 mm) to 50 inches (1,300 mm) of rainfall, while near the coast 50 inches (1,300 mm) to 60 inches (1,500 mm), and the piedmont receives 70 inches (1,800 mm) to 80 inches (2,000 mm) of precipitation.[3]


Snowfall in South Carolina is not very excessive with coastal areas receiving less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) on average. It is common for areas along the coast (especially the southern coast) to receive no measurable snowfall in a given year. The interior receives more snow. The snowiest location in the state averages as much as 6 inches (15 cm) of snow a year. Freezing rain is more common than snow across much of the state.

Severe weather

Tropical cyclones

Hurricane Hugo (1989)

The state is prone to tropical cyclones. This is an annual concern during hurricane season, which is from June through November. The peak time of vulnerability for the southeast Atlantic coast is from early August to early October when tropical cyclone frequency is highest.[4] Major hurricanes can impact the Palmetto state, though there are no category 5 impacts on record.[5] Two of the stronger hurricanes to strike South Carolina in recent times are Hurricane Hazel (1954) and Hurricane Hugo (1989), which were of category 4 strength. For weaker systems, rainfall is the main impact to the state. The wettest known tropical cyclone to impact South Carolina was a tropical depression named Jerry in 1995 which stalled nearby and had previously been a tropical storm across Florida.[6] Jerry brought nearly 19 inches (480 mm) of rainfall to upstate South Carolina.[7]

Thunderstorms and tornadoes

South Carolina averages around 50 days of thunderstorm activity per year. South Carolina is slightly less vulnerable to tornadoes than the states which border on the Gulf of Mexico. Still, some notable tornadoes have struck South Carolina and the state averages around 14 tornadoes annually.[8] There have been no F-5 tornadoes but over a dozen F-4 tornadoes have occurred in many counties in South Carolina. An F-2 Tornado (113-157 miles per hour) struck 8 miles southeast of Blenhiem in August 2004. This was a tornado which formed along a feeder band from Hurricane Charley. This tornado uprooted a mature oak tree and ripped heavy Greek pillars from a home and placed one on top of the roof. Pine needles from an adjacent woods were stuck up and spun around in a solid cloud of needles. Roof shingles were torn off some homes. A Clayton Zone 3 (Hurricane resistance rating) rated mobile home held up with only roof shingle and skirting damage). As typical in a tornado, the skipping pattern produced results that some homes received little or no damage whereas, adjacent property was more heavily damaged. South Carolina's latitude often creates a situation, when the air is unstable, to have very warm air at the surface with very cold air aloft at the right height for significant hail formation.

See also



All translations of Climate_of_South_Carolina

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