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Charleston: Geography and Climate


Charleston is located in a narrow valley in the western Appalachian Mountains at the junction of the Kanawha and Elk rivers. Framed with green hills, the city and neighboring towns have developed along the Kanawha to the east and west, though some residential areas can be found on the surrounding hills and in nearby valleys.

The region's weather is highly changeable, particularly during the winter months when Arctic air may alternate with tropical air. Consequently, sharp temperature contrasts are the rule—even on a day-to-day basis—and total annual snowfall ranges from less than 5 inches to more than 50. Spring temperatures warm rapidly, however, and summers can occasionally be hot, hazy, and humid. Most of Charles-ton's precipitation falls in the form of rain; the brief, sometimes heavy, thunderstorms of July make it the wettest month of the year. The terrain and air flow patterns combine to make Charleston one of the foggiest cities in the United States.

Area: 32 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 601 feet in the downtown area to approximately 1,100 feet above sea level in the hilltops

Average Temperatures: January, 35.7° F; July, 75.9° F; annual average, 56.2° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 44.05 inches


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