Known for its subtropical beaches and biodiverse marshes, you may not have ever thought about the coldest place in South Carolina. However, when you realize just how cold it can get here, you’ll see that the sunshine and summer days are only one part of this beautiful southern state.
Ready to learn just where the coldest place in South Carolina is? Keep reading below!
Average Climate in South Carolina
South Carolina has what is known as a humid subtropical climate. This means that it experiences hot, humid summers with mild winters. During the daytime during the summer, you can expect averages in the high 80s through the mid-90s. However, it’s also not uncommon to see temperatures nearing the triple digits! Often, when you view the heat index, which takes into account humidity, temperatures over 100 aren’t a rare sight in the summers of South Carolina.
Winters present a bit more variation based on where you are in the state. Believe it or not, coastal areas actually warmer in the winter! The average temperature during this time is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Inland, though, you’ll see that temperatures easily sit around freezing as far as lows go. Highs tend to get into the 40s and 50s during the day.
Thanks to the humidity of summer, severe storms can occur often in South Carolina. This includes tropical cyclones and tornadoes. Hurricane Hazel of 1954 is regarded as one of the worst hurricanes to ever hit South Carolina. When it made landfall in the States, it was Category 4.
What is the coldest place in South Carolina?
The coldest place in South Carolina is Long Creek, also seen as Longcreek. It has an average annual low temperature of only 46 degrees.
About Long Creek
Long Creek is what is known as an unincorporated community, as well as a census-designated place. In its 2020 census, it showed that only 96 people call the coldest place in South Carolina home.
It’s located within Sumter National Forest, and you can find it in the western region of South Carolina, closer to the Georgia border. This higher elevation is one contributing factor to its title as the coldest place in South Carolina.
Coldest Temperature Recorded in South Carolina
Although many consider Long Creek to be the coldest place in South Carolina, it’s not actually the home of the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state!
Instead, you can trace the coldest temperature to Caesars Head. Picture this. It’s early morning in the winter on January 21, 1985. You look at the weather, just to see that the temperature for the day is -19 degrees Fahrenheit! This happens to have been the reality for many people in Caesars Head on the coldest day recorded in South Carolina.
A quick glance at the averages across South Carolina will show that this is an unusual temperature to experience in the state. So, what exactly happened?
What Caused These Cold Temperatures?
Weather can be a finicky thing. Although you can typically know what to expect on a day-to-day basis, certain weather events and phenomena can completely change what you thought you knew about weather.
When you look at the average temperatures in the coldest place in South Carolina, as well as throughout the rest of the state, you’ll notice that the cities here favor warmer weather. Even in the middle of winter, temperatures near and below freezing are uncommon. So, why was January 21, 1985, so special? After all, not only did it cause record low temperatures in Long Creek and Caesars Head, but also across the state and even the east coast!
This cold weather wasn’t random. Instead, it was caused by what is known as a polar vortex.
Weather is made up of many factors, including temperature, humidity, precipitation, and air pressure. The polar vortex is always around. However, you don’t usually see it in the United States. Instead, it’s a perpetual pool of low pressure and cold temperatures that typically exist near the north and south poles of the Earth.
During the summer, when the weather gets warmer, the polar vortex isn’t as strong. However, when winter comes, the dropping temperatures can allow for the polar vortex to grow strong enough to expand, sometimes down into the southern parts of North America. This, as a result, can cause the United States to look more like the Arctic Circle!
This is exactly what happened in January of 1985. A polar vortex send frosty air into South Carolina, which caused otherwise average temperatures to plummet below zero.
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