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Charlottesville has one of the most distinctive and pleasant climates in the country. The weather is influenced significantly by the Blue Ridge mountains, approximately fifteen miles to the west, and the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean to the east. Both act in concert to modify extremes, giving the area and a surrounding narrow strip along the western Piedmont of Virginia and North Carolina one of the most amenable climates in North America.
Summers are warm, with daytime maximum temperatures averaging in the mid to upper 80's, and lows in the 60's. Maximum persisting dewpoints, which are a good measure of the expected levels of discomfort, are in the mid 70's, and are in fact lower than they are in either Chicago or Minneapolis. Relative humidity in July along the western Piedmont strip is the lowest for the entire East Coast south of New England. The area does experience a few days over 100 degrees but temperatures rarely reach 90 in the middle of Summer.
Winter high temperatures average in the upper 40's, with lows in the upper 20's. This is considerably warmer than areas immediately to the west at the same elevation. The severity of the Arctic outbreaks is substantially mitigated by the Blue Ridge, because of the downslope warming and increased sunshine. Record low temperatures immediately to the west of the Blue Ridge are nearly 15 degrees colder than they are in Charlottesville. The mercury can fall below zero at times but long cold spells are rare.
The area averages 44 inches of rainfall annually from moisture originating from the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. Summer average rainfall of 14 inches falls primarily during scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms which are quite frequent (about 40 per year). However, they are usually quite weak by U.S. standards, as they are influenced by downward motion as they transit the Blue Ridge.
The immediate surrounding area averages 24 inches of snow per year, but residence time on the ground is quite short, with an average of only between ten and twenty days per year with more than an inch of snow reported on the ground. Snowfalls in the nearby mountains can be excessive, and colder temperatures assure a much more continuous snowpack. Using combinations of both natural and man-made "snow," two highly successful ski resorts are in operation within 45 minutes drive.