South Carolina experiences a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters. On average, July is the hottest month of the year, while January has the lowest temperatures. Somewhere between 40 and 80 inches of precipitation falls annually across the state, as this region is prone to thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes, especially during the spring and fall. Generally speaking, snowstorms are scarce and nonexistent in most years.
Summer temperatures in South Carolina (at the height of tourist season) can be hot and humid. Winter can be much milder, however, with coastal areas averaging around 60 F during the day. But the farther inland you go, towards Appalachia, things start to cool off and nighttime temperatures can drop to freezing.
If you plan to travel to South Carolina, avoid the hottest and wettest month of July, tornado season in the early spring, and hurricane season, which can last from late August through October. All other times of year are pleasant, depending on where you're visiting.
Fast Climate Facts:
- Hottest Month: July (91 F/ 33 C)
- Coldest Month: January (58 F/ 15 C)
- Wettest Month: July (5.54 inches)
Tornadoes in the Spring and Hurricanes in the Fall
The Southeastern United States sure experiences its share of storms. But if you plan your travel right, you should be able to avoid them. Hit the beach from May to July to skirt the tail ends of the high tornado and hurricane seasons. Traveling to South Carolina in the winter is also a safe bet if you don't mind cooler winter temperatures. But be wary of booking a trip to this state in the fall, as hurricanes frequent coastal areas from August through October. Strong winds, high seas, and punishing rains can often warrant evacuations, making hopping a plane home or driving north on the freeway challenging.
Winter in South Carolina
While summer temperatures are usually steady in South Carolina—averaging a humid 90 F—winter temperatures are variable. Coastal areas experience mild daytime temperatures—perfect for a walk on the beach—while overnight lows near 38 F warrant an insulated jacket. The further inland you go, the cooler it gets. Expect temperatures to be brisk during the day and close to freezing at night.
What to pack: While you won't need a heavy coat in South Carolina, you will want to pack sweaters and a mid-weight jacket for layering. Choose pants or jeans and a long-sleeve shirt to keep you comfortable. And throw in one short sleeved-shirt for good measure, as you may get a day in the 60s. A hat, gloves, and a scarf are rarely necessary unless for fashion purposes only.
Spring in South Carolina
South Carolina sits just off the edge of tornado alley, making tornados a possibility in the spring with another peak come November. And while the state averages around 11 tornadoes annually, no F-5 tornadoes (the highest category) have been recorded. But don't let the possibility of tornadoes deter your spring travel plans, as the capital city of Columbia boasts comfortable weather, making springtime one of the best times to visit.
What to pack: Spring weather can be unpredictable, so pack accordingly. Think light layers and a comfortable jacket. While the spring months aren't unusually wet, the occasional spring thunderstorm is common, so packing an umbrella is still a good idea. Short sleeves, lightweight pants (shorts come May), and comfortable sneakers should be all you need.
Summer in South Carolina
Tornadoes are very uncommon in the summer (unless a tropical cyclone is in the area), making it a good time to hit the beach. But with average temperatures hovering around 90 F, try to go early. Tourist areas like Myrtle Beach and the Outer Banks can be hot and sticky, but coastal breezes, a quick dip in the ocean, and rentals equipped with air conditioning make it bearable. Afternoon thunderstorms, due to hot and humid conditions, can also lend some reprieve from the heat and contribute to precipitation levels during the summer and early fall months.
What to pack: Summers are hot and humid, so bring your beach clothes. Light, breathable fabrics in the form of t-shirts, shorts, and dresses will wick moisture to keep you cool. Sandals, a hat, and sunglasses (complete with plenty of sunscreen) protect you from the elements and a sweatshirt or light jacket will cool the chill of air conditioning or a passing summertime shower.
Fall in South Carolina
While the hurricane season can last from June through November in South Carolina, it peaks in August through October when tropical cyclone frequency is highest. Major hurricanes can impact the Palmetto state causing considerable destruction and evacuations. If you're a brave traveler, however, you can enjoy average temperatures in the 70s and high 60s F until well into November.
Visiting South Carolina's inland high country (around the city of Greenville) makes a great family outing during this time of year. The weather is mild, temperatures are comfortable, and the fall foliage and autumn festivals provide fun for the whole family.
What to pack: Temperatures begin to drop during the fall making sweaters and a light jacket necessary. Daytime temperatures are pleasant, requiring no more than a cotton t-shirt and light pants or shorts. But come nightfall, you'll need to top off your ensemble with a warm jacket or sweater.
|Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours|
|Month||Avg. Temp.||Rainfall||Daylight Hours|
|January||58 F||4.7 inches||10 hours|
|February||63 F||3.8 inches||10 hours|
|March||70 F||4.6 inches||11 hours|
|April||76 F||3.0 inches||13 hours|
|May||83 F||3.2 inches||13 hours|
|June||88 F||5.0 inches||14 hours|
|July||91 F||5.5 inches||14 hours|
|August||90 F||5.4 inches||13 hours|
|September||85 F||3.9 inches||12 hours|
|October||77 F||2.9 inches||11 hours|
|November||70 F||2.9 inches||10 hours|
|December||62 F||3.4 inches||10 hours|
South Carolina Emergency Medical Division. "Tornadoes." December 2020.