One of the best things about the Charleston area is the weather- its mid- Atlantic seaboard location means that the area largely avoids the scorching temperatures found further South, while avoiding the sub-zero temperatures found up North- another example of how the area is “just right.” While the city does miss out on the fall colors prevalent to the Northern states, Charleston does have official seasons, presenting the opportunity to change your wardrobe throughout the year.
In the summer, temperatures average in the mid to high 80’s during the day, but high humidity can make these temps feel more oppressive at times. Fortunately, cooling ocean breezes frequently favor the area, taking off the edge. These breezes are the reason many of the classic downtown homes are situated as they are- commonly long and narrow in shape, with many big windows oriented to catch and allow these breezes to move through the home, as well as very high ceilings, which allow for the hotter air to rise away from the homes occupants.
In the evening, things cool down, but it’s very rare that you would need a jacket or coat in the summer months. The highest summer temperature on record is 104 degrees in June, and the recorded low is 52.
In the spring and fall, temps are extraordinarily pleasant- historically in the mid 60’s- mid 70’s, accompanied by lower humidity that makes walking around town and being outdoors a very fine experience. Due to its coastal location, Charleston does face some hurricane risk each year- the season officially runs from June- 1 through November 30th, with peak activity in September. If you go to Charleston in the fall, think seriously about travel insurance, if offered- this helps take the risk and worry out of your planning.
Winter is also pleasant. Snow is rare- oftentimes years can go by without a single flake, but occasional snowfall does pretty much shut the whole place down, and the locals simply wait for it to melt away. The Charleston area is interconnected by a series of bridges, and from time to time (but rarely) freezing rain can temporarily restrict movement, as the bridges will quickly ice up. January is the coldest month of the year, with temps averaging a very manageable 56 degrees. Average historical lows are in the mid 40’s range- this allows for a variety of more hardy tropical plants to flourish in the area.
The area is designated as humid subtropical under the Koppen climate classification, and does see a decent amount of rainfall, averaging just over 50 inches annually. In the summer, don’t be surprised to see a heavy afternoon thunderstorm that passes over quickly- these welcome events drop the heat index and humidity noticeably, especially on a beach day.