Geography & Climate

Geography & Climate – Key Factor Summary

  • Atlantic seaboard location midway between Boston and Miami
  • Longitude: 77° 22′ W Latitude: 35° 27′ N
  • Elevation: 10′-100′ MSL. Land Area: 419,800 acres
  • Population: Pitt County: 175,354 (2014); Square Miles: 656.52. Major City: Greenville, population 89,852 (2014); Square Miles: 35
  • Greenville/Pitt County is centrally situated to serve the largest concentration of population and industry in eastern North Carolina (over 820,000 people within 45 miles)
  • A coastal location, protection by eastern mountains, and proximity to the Gulf Stream serve to moderate climate
  • Temperate climate makes shutdowns due to inclement weather rare and allows year-round outdoor recreation
  • Average daily maximum temperature 72°F
  • Average daily minimum temperature 50°F
  • Any snow accumulation melts quickly (temperature usually gets above freezing any day it goes below freezing)
  • Abundant supply of high quality ground water available from eight underground aquifers
  • Tar River is navigable from Greenville to the Pamlico Sound (boating and water skiing are popular) with proximity to Intracoastal Waterway


Pitt County, North Carolina is located on the U.S. Atlantic seaboard approximately midway between Boston, Massachusetts and Miami, Florida and within a day’s drive of over one-half the nation’s population. Many of the principal U.S. industrial markets such as Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis, and Miami are within a two day’s drive by truck. Additionally, the Pitt County/Greenville area offers an advantageous location for exporters/importers of either bulk or containerized freight, being equidistant from the three east coast ports of Norfolk-Hampton Roads, Wilmington, and Morehead City (see Transportation for greater detail).

Regional Perspective

Pitt County is situated in the central portion of the North Carolina Coastal Plain, approximately 90 miles east of the Research Triangle, 30 miles inland from coastal waters, 80 miles from the Atlantic Ocean (the famous Outer Banks), and roughly 275 miles from the Appalachian Mountains (the Blue Ridge Parkway).

Greenville, the county seat and largest city, is centrally located within the County. Greenville is approximately 85 miles east of Raleigh, N.C. (the state Capital and eastern-most point of the Research Triangle), 163 miles south of Richmond, Virginia, and 115 miles north of Wilmington, N.C. (the State’s major seaport).

Ideally situated within eastern North Carolina at the hub of a radiating highway network, the Pitt County/Greenville area is the logical point of distribution east of Raleigh. Over 820,000 people live within forty-five (45) miles of Pitt County in such industrialized cities as Rocky Mount, Tarboro, Wilson, Washington, Goldsboro, Kinston and New Bern. In-bound freight can be delivered via CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway or over major four-lane highways (multi-lane divided highways run from Pitt County to all North Carolina borders). For distribution purposes, all of the major regional cities can be accessed directly via state/federal numbered highways, ensuring minimal transit times, safe driving conditions on wide pavement, and few, if any, weight or height restrictions.

For more detailed maps of Pitt County and the State of NC, please visit the NC Dept. of Transportation’s website at and click on Travel & Maps.


The Pitt County Area lies in the Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province and slopes gently to the east and southeast. Broad, flat interstream areas are the dominant topographic features; marked topographic variations are lacking. Slopes generally are less than 4 percent, except for breaks along the south side of the Tar River and its tributaries. Also, the area north of the Tar River slopes more gently than the southern section.

Areas north of the Tar River area generally are lower in elevation than that part south of the Tar. Elevations in the northern and southern parts range, respectively, from approximately 10 to 50 feet and 10 to 75 feet above mean sea level. The highest elevations are encountered along the extreme western boundary of the county.

Streams are of sufficient abundance to provide good drainage. The Tar River and its tributaries drain most of the county, but tributaries of the Neuse River, Swift Creek, and Contentnea Creek drain all the southern and extreme western areas of the county, respectively.


Pitt County is underlaid by unconsolidated beds of sand, clay, and calcareous sediment. Inclined southeasterly at a rate slightly greater than the land’s surface, the beds thicken as they near the coast and reach their greatest thickness offshore. For the most part, these beds were deposited in sea water as the sea advanced and retreated during the geologic development of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. To a much lesser extent, streams deposited layers of sediment which mixed with that deposited on the sea floor. About 750 feet underneath the sedimentary cover is a basement rock floor consisting of weathered granite, gneiss, schist, and slate. Load bearing capabilities of soils vary widely; many areas of the county can support heavy industrial loads without the need for pilings. Soil boring tests are suggested. Preliminary test data is available for selected sites.


Pitt County is in the warmest area of North Carolina due to its close proximity to the ocean and its low-lying topography. Greenville has an average daily maximum temperature of 72°F and an average daily minimum of 50°F. The average annual precipitation is 49.0 inches. A large part of the rainfall during the growing season (approximately 220 freeze-free days between late March and early November) is due to thunderstorms and is quite variable between months, years, and localities. Winter rainfall is less variable. Frozen precipitation occurs nearly every winter, but accumulations are usually small and melt quickly. Wind speeds average about 8 miles per hour. The average relative humidity in midafternoon is about 50%, falling from about 85% at sunrise. Cloudiness is variable with sunshine about one-half of the total daylight hours in winter and two-thirds of the total daylight hours in other seasons.

Greenville, NC Monthly Climatic Conditions From 1875-2012

Source: Southeast Regional Climate Center

Climatic Aberrations (50 years)

Highest Daily Rainfall: 10.75 inches (9/16/1999)
Highest Daily Snowfall: 12.8 inches (3/3/1980)
Maximum Accumulation of Snow: 16 inches (3/1980)
Highest Wind Speed: 82 mph (6/4/1982)