Mother Nature is kind to Orangeburg County.
Mild year-round temperatures with frequent sunny blue skies make the county an idyllic place to live and to enjoy the great outdoors.
According to the Columbia National Weather Service, the average normal temperature for Orangeburg, as measured at the Orangeburg Municipal Airport, is 64.4 degrees.
The average summer temperature is 79.1 and the average winter day is 46 degrees, Columbia NWS Meteorologist Chris Rohrbach said.
The normal average rainfall for Orangeburg is 46.73 inches a year, falling equally during the 12 months and helping to keep the county's flora and fauna vibrant and lush all year.
The climate is described as humid subtropical, meaning hot and humid summers and mild winters.
"We never have a true winter," Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President Melinda Jackson said. "We are always mild and have warm temperatures. Our spring and summer lasts more than two-thirds of the year, which is very attractive."
Jackson said most recently a visitor from Pennsylvania came to the area and was enjoying the 60s and 70s.
"She was delighted to leave temperatures of 40 degrees," Jackson said. "I get that constantly of guests who visit Orangeburg County about how fabulous our climate is."
Orangeburg Country Club PGA Director of Golf David Lackey said according to data, Orangeburg County has about 300 days a year where outdoor activities are ideal.
"That is only two days a month when you have some type of rain," Lackey said. You can play almost any day of the month and any day of the year," Lackey said. "We have 12 months of good golfing weather."
Lackey said temperatures in December and January often in the 60s and even 70s have golfers sometime out in shorts and T-shirts when other places are in the dead of winter.
Lake Marion Golf Course General Manager Todd Miller said he has often heard from people moving to the area specifically because of the climate.
"There are about 300 homes around the Santee Cooper Country Club that all came from somewhere else, and I have many employees that will tell you they moved here to have better climate," Miller said. "I myself moved here some 19 years ago to be able to work year round and not for only eight months."
Lake Marion, the largest lake in the state, provides an outdoor paradise. The lake covers more than 110,000 acres and has a 315-mile shoreline of rolling farmlands, former marshes, and river valley landscape.
The lake is complete with an abundance of wildlife and is brimming with marine life. The lake has gained legendary status for record game fish catches.
The lake offers year-round fishing opportunities.
The weather is temperate, and the lake does not ice over in the winter months.
One can hook bream, catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, white bass and the famous freshwater striped bass.
Other outdoor activities possible year-round include boating, bicycling, walking, hiking, hunting and sporting opportunities such as tennis.
Santee State Park, Edisto Memorial Gardens and the Edisto River provide residents natural outlets to enjoy.
Growing season delight
When considering agriculture, the county is described as being in hardiness zone 8, meaning on average the most extreme low temperature is between 10 and 20 degrees, Rohrbach said.
“One of the good things about our climate is we have nine months of growing season," Orangeburg Superintendent of Parks Jay Hiers said. “Depending on what Mother Nature decides to give us, we’ve gone into November and December with things growing.”
For example, Hiers said roses in the Edisto Memorial Gardens can grow well into the late fall and early winter.
“We’ve turned the Christmas lights on and had roses underneath them blooming," he said. “There are a lot of people from up North who are only used to a three- or four-month growing season."
Hiers said the county's designation as subtropical means tender vegetation can often survive longer and better in Orangeburg County.
Usually at the end of January, folks in Orangeburg can start getting their yards and gardens ready for cultivation, Hiers said.
Cold-tolerant annuals and containerized plants that give winter its color can grow.
The infrequency of freezes helps to keep the soil fruitful, meaning trees and shrubs can continue to grow even in the winter in some cases.
"“For shrubs and trees, you can plant in fall and winter, which benefits the plant because it may not be growing visibly above ground," Hiers said.
The county is not immune to Mother Nature's wrath, however.
In 1973, a blizzard hit the county, dumping more than 2 feet of snow and in 1989 Hurricane Hugo roared its way through the state.
The area is not immune to ice storms and to severe thunderstorms but overall the climate is welcoming.
When Mother Nature is on her best behavior, farmers enjoy the ability to grow corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans as well as butter beans, peaches, squash, peas, cantaloupe, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries.