South Carolina’s climate is characterized by hot summers and mild winters. Precipitation is abundant and fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The subtropical climate found in most of the state arises from the combination of the state’s relatively low latitude, its generally low elevation, the proximity of the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, and the Appalachian Mountains, which in winter help to screen out cold air from the interior of the continent.
Average January temperatures range from less than 4° C (40° F) in the extreme northwestern part of the state to more than 10° C (50° F) in the southern coastal areas. The average temperature range in centrally located Columbia is 0° to 13° C (32° to 55° F) in January. Brief spells of cold weather, with temperatures of -7º C (20° F) or lower, occur each winter.
July temperatures average 27° C (80° F) in most of the state, with temperatures in the lower 20°s C (lower 70°s F) in the mountains. Except in the mountains, summer daytime highs throughout South Carolina often enter the lower 30°s C (lower 90°s F). The temperature in July in Columbia ranges from 21° to 33° C (70° to 92° F). Central South Carolina has an average annual precipitation (both rainfall and snowfall) of 1,140 mm (45 in). Greater amounts fall along the seaboard, which regularly receives more than 1,220 mm (48 in) a year, and in the mountains of the northwest, where more than 1,780 mm (70 in) can be expected.
Nearly all precipitation falls as rain, and more than half is received during the spring and summer months. Snow usually occurs only in the mountains and upper Piedmont. The growing season, or period between the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost in fall, ranges from about 190 days in the mountains to more than 290 days in the southern coastal area. In the central part of the state, from 210 to 230 days of the year are without frost. Along the coast, the last killing frost in spring generally occurs near the end of February, but in the mountains, frost occurs usually during the last weeks of April. The first killing frost in fall generally occurs at the end of October in the mountains, and in early December along the coast. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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