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Located in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere, West Virginia has four distinct seasons. The annual average temperature ranges from near 45 degrees over the high mountains to around 55 degrees in the southwestern lowlands and the extreme Eastern Panhandle.

Annual precipitation is usually well distributed across the months, although July is frequently the wettest and October often the driest. Widespread rains and snows fall from late autumn into early spring. During the summer, more intense, but briefer, showers and thunderstorms provide the majority of precipitation. Occasionally, the remnants of a tropical storm affect the state. Annual precipitation includes both the rain and melted snow. The least amounts are usually in the ‘‘shadow’’ east of the Allegheny Front, where the high mountains block the neighboring lowlands from moisture-bearing winds from the west. Here, in the drainage of the South Branch of the Potomac, yearly amounts of 30 to 35 inches are typical. In contrast, some elevations above 2,500 feet on the western slopes of the central mountains average around 65 inches of precipitation. A yearly average of 40 to 45 inches encompasses much of the state. The extremes in annual precipitation range from 89 inches from Bayard, Grant County, in 1926 to only 9.5 inches in Upper Tract, Pendleton County, during 1930.

During January, daily high temperatures are usually from the mid-30s over the mountains to the lower 40s in the lowlands. Overnight low temperatures average from 15 degrees in the mountains to around 24 degrees in the southwestern lowlands. Average snowfall varies widely. It ranges from near 20 inches in the river valleys of the southwestern lowlands to over 125 inches in elevations above 2,500 feet in the northern and central mountains. Winter often brings prolonged periods of cloudiness to the mountains and western slopes.

During July, daily high temperatures average from the lower 70s above 3,000 feet in the mountains, to the upper 80s in both the southwestern lowlands and Eastern Panhandle. Overnight low readings normally range from the mid-50s in the mountains to mid-60s in the southwestern lowlands and extreme Eastern Panhandle. Adding to the discomfort level, weather patterns can become stagnant during the summer, resulting in an accumulation of haze and humidity. Unless the summer is dry, early morning fog is common from July through September.

This Article was written by Kenneth T. Batty

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Cite This Article

Batty, Kenneth T. "Climate." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 03 February 2011. Web. 24 April 2017.

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