The climate of South Carolina
has a mainly humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with hot and humid summers and mild to cold winters. South Carolina lies in the southeastern corner of the United States. The Atlantic Ocean lies in the southeast, and Georgia is in the southwest, while North Carolina forms the border to the north. The Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the latitudes influence the climate of the state.
South Carolina, The Palmetto State, with an average elevation of 110 meters above sea level, has the highest point on Sassafras Mountain at 1085 meters. South Carolina consists of three geographic areas going from east to west. The Atlantic Coastal Plain is the Low Country area with flat terrain in the easternmost part that occupies two-thirds of the state. The plain contains salt marshes, estuaries, and numerous bays that are part of the Middle Atlantic coastal forests. The Piedmont area forms the Midlands and consists of forests of the Southeastern mixed type. Lastly, the Blue Ridge Mountains form the Upstate area, which is a part of the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Summers are hot and humid in South Carolina, with day temperatures often above 90°F (32.2°C) on average. Nights are mild to warm in the 66°F (18.9°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range and are warmer along the coast than the interior. Winters are mild to cold, with daily highs in the 58°F (14.4°C) to 62°F (16.7°C) range, while nights are between 38°F (3.3°C) to 42°F (5.6°C) along the coast. January
nights are below freezing in the Midlands and drop significantly below freezing in the Upstate area. Air-conditioners are necessary for the summer at altitudes below 150 meters, while heaters are necessary for the winter above 150 meters. Spring and autumn are wetter inland than the coast, which receives the highest amount of rainfall in the summer.
The average annual precipitation in South Carolina ranges between 45" (1143mm) and 80" (2032mm) and occurs throughout the year. November
is the driest month in the interior, and winter is the driest season. Snowfall is rare, with the coast receiving no or less than an inch of measurable snow in the year. The interior receives up to 12" (305mm), and the northwestern mountains accumulate substantial amounts. Icy rain and sleet are common in the winter instead of snow. The average annual freeze-free period that coincides with the growing season ranges from 200 days in the mountain areas to 280 days in the coastal areas. The sunshine is ample throughout the year and averages over 2750 hours annually.
The highest recorded temperature in South Carolina is 113°F (45°C) in Johnston and Columbia on June
29, 2012, while the lowest recorded temperature is -19°F (-28.3°C) at Caesars Head on January 21, 1985.
The best time to visit South Carolina
The best time to visit South Carolina
is in the spring - from March
, and in the autumn - in September
. A relatively dry period occurs in April
and May, which is the driest month in the spring. The heat and humidity are lower compared to the summer, but the sunlight is ample, and the days are long. Budget travelers find the shoulder seasons better for discounted accommodations. The fall season has mild temperatures and is the driest among all seasons. The mountain areas see a splash of colors, and the storm season is on the wane. Hiking, fishing, and hunting are popular in the forests and state parks.
The worst time to visit South Carolina
The worst time to visit South Carolina
, if any, is in the winter season from December
. The temperatures drop below freezing for 50 to 70 days in the Piedmont and Upstate areas. Cold conditions increase with altitude, and the mountains in the northwest receive an ample amount of snow. Summers are oppressive due to heat and humidity. However, temperatures are significantly lower in the Blue Ridge Mountains compared to the interior of the state, especially at high altitudes. Peak summer temperatures are uncomfortable for tourists from the cold regions of North America.
is prone to thunderstorms, floods, droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, and tropical cyclones. Thunderstorm days average 50 in a year, while tornadoes register 14 on an annual average. Spring and summer is the period of thunderstorms with lightning, high wind, and hail. Tornadoes peak during April
, but the usual period of occurrence is between March
. The hurricane season lasts from June to November
, with a peak in late summer and fall seasons. Floods occur occasionally but rarely pose a threat to human lives as they do to livestock and property. Tropical storms bring heavy rain to the coast and even in the interior occasionally. Earthquakes are frequent in the Charleston area along the central coastline.
Weather in January
is the coldest month of the year in South Carolina
, with the average low temperatures ranging from 26°F (-3.3°C) in the mountains to 40°F (4.4°C) in the plains. Hilton Head Island on the Atlantic Coast averages between 40°F (4.4°C) to 60°F (15.6°C), while Caesars Head State Park in the Uplands region is between 26°F (-3.3°C) to 44°F (6.7°C). Weather in January »
Weather in February
is mildly cold and relatively dry in the winter of South Carolina
. Polar air masses occasionally penetrate the interior of the state to record freezing nights. The days see warm sunshine, with average temperatures in the 47°F (8.3°C) to 63°F (17.2°C). Weather in February »
Weather in March
is the beginning of the beautiful spring season in South Carolina
. The dryness of winter changes to the wetness of spring, with blooming flowers and a green landscape. The average high temperatures are in the mild 56°F (13.3°C) to warm 69°F (20.6°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the cold 35°F (1.7°C) to mild 49°F (9.4°C) zone. The ground is entirely free of snow and ice, and the only ice caps that are persistent are those on the top of the high mountains. Weather in March »
Weather in April
is a beautiful time to visit South Carolina
in the relatively dry part of the spring season. Day temperatures are in the comfortable 64°F (17.8°C) to 75°F (23.9°C) range, while nights are in the mild zone of 42°F (5.6°C) to 55°F (12.8°C). Weather in April »
Weather in May
is sunny in South Carolina
, with clear skies and is the driest month of the spring season. The average high temperatures are in the warm 71°F (21.7°C) to 82°F (27.8°C) range, while the average low temperatures are in the mild 51°F (10.6°C) to 63°F (17.2°C) zone. The 8 hours of daily sunshine is the time to explore the beauty of nature and visit national and state parks. Weather in May »
Weather in June
begins the hot and humid summer season in South Carolina
and a wet period along the coast. Nights are comfortable in the 56°F (13.3°C) to 70°F (21.1°C) range, while the days are long, with average high temperatures in the 76°F (24.4°C) to 92°F (33.3°C) zone. Weather in June »
Weather in July
is usually the hottest month of the year in South Carolina
, with the average high temperatures in the high range of 79°F (26.1°C) to 95°F (35°C). Georgetown on the coast is slightly milder between 71°F (21.7°C) to 91°F (32.8°C) than Columbia in the midlands region which sees temperatures in the 73°F (22.8°C) to 95°F (35°C) range. Weather in July »
Weather in August
is hot in South Carolina
, with a minimum of 8 hours of daily sunshine. The average high temperatures are in the scorching 77°F (25°C) to 93°F (33.9°C) range, while the average low temperatures register between 61°F (16.1°C) to 72°F (22.2°C). The average rainfall ranges from 4" (102mm) to 8" (203mm) and is the highest in the coastal belt. Weather in August »
Weather in September
begins the beautiful autumn season in South Carolina
, with the temperatures steadily on the wane. The average temperatures are in the range of 55°F (12.8°C) to 88°F (31.1°C), signifying better days ahead. Long Creek in the upstate region has one of the most comfortable conditions in the state, with temperatures in the range of 57°F (13.9°C) to 79°F (26.1°C). The precipitation is to the tune of 4" (102mm) to 6" (152mm), with mostly clear skies and sunny days. Weather in September »
Weather in October
is in the middle of the colorful autumn season in South Carolina
, with a rapidly changing landscape. The average high temperatures are in the beautiful range of 63°F (17.2°C) to 79°F (26.1°C), while the average low temperatures are mild between 46°F (7.8°C) to 55°F (12.8°C). October receives between 3" (76mm) to 5" (127mm) of rainfall across the state. Weather in October »
Weather in November
is the driest month of the year in South Carolina
, with the rainfall hardly reaching an average of 2" (51mm) in the state. The average high temperatures are in the comfortable 55°F (12.8°C) to 69°F (20.6°C) range, but the average low temperatures drop in the cold zone between 37°F (2.8°C) to 47°F (8.3°C). Weather in November »
Weather in December
is the beginning of the winter season in South Carolina
with moderate rainfall between 3" (76mm) to 4" (102mm). The average high temperatures are in the mild 46°F (7.8°C) to 60°F (15.6°C) range, while the average low temperatures are between a cold 29°F (-1.7°C) to 39°F (3.9°C). Snowfall is moderate in the Midlands and Upstate regions and light elsewhere. Weather in December »