In the United States, we begin the month of February with a very odd ritual that was first started here in the late 1800s by German settlers in Pennsylvania. On February 2, a day that we call "Groundhog Day," we look to see if a groundhog (hedgehog) sees his shadow. If he sees the shadow, the legend holds, then winter weather will last another six weeks (roughly until the first day of spring). However, if the groundhog does not see his shadow, then spring weather will come sooner.
No matter what a furry animal says, February is a very cold month across most of the country. It is the last month of winter, after all. However, signs of spring do tend to emerge by the end of the month in most parts of the country.
Expect very cold temperatures in New England with snowfall and average lows and highs varying across the northern states like Maine and Vermont to the more southern states like Rhode Island. The region as a whole is know for sporadic temperature changes and out-of-the-blue storms, so be sure to check the local weather channels before heading off on a trip.
The Northwest and Middle America
The Midwest, Plains states, and the states of the Mid-Atlantic also tend to very cold. Winter is typically the rainy season in the Northwest. Cities such as Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon will see cloudy skies and rainy days throughout much of the month. Snow is common at higher elevations.
The Southeast and Southwest
For milder temperatures, head to the Southeast and Southwest regions. February is when the states of Florida and Arizona begin to host baseball spring training. Fans flock to stadiums in Scottsdale, Arizona and Palm Beach, Florida for the sunny skies and first glimpses of their favorite teams. A temperate climate with temperatures in the upper 60s is usually the norm for Mardi Gras, the end-of-winter New Orleans carnival which usually falls during the month of February.
Ski and Beach Vacations
The long Presidents Day weekend near the end of the month is a popular time to plan a vacation to a skiing and snowboarding resort. Destinations in the West’s Rocky Mountains like Snowmass, Colorado and Lake Tahoe, California are high enough up that they are reasonably safe bets for great snow throughout the month.
For those looking to escape the cold temperatures, the long weekend is also a great time to hit the beaches on either coast. Weather in the Florida Keys hovers around 70 degrees, and is free from the humidity of the summer. In the West, it is hard to go wrong on any of the Hawaiian Islands where it will be warm and around 80 degrees with infrequent rain.
At a glance: average February temperatures for the Top 10 tourist destinations in the United States (High / Low):
- New York City: 32°F / 29°F (0°C / -2°C)
- Los Angeles: 68°F / 50°F (20°C / 10°C)
- Chicago: 33°F / 17°F (1°C / -8°C)
- Washington, DC: 47°F / 26°F (8°C / -3°C)
- Las Vegas: 63°F / 34°F (17°C / 2°C)
- San Francisco: 66°F / 48°F (18°C / 8°C)
- Hawaii: 80°F / 63°F (26°C / 17°C)
- Grand Canyon: 45°F / 21°F (7°C / -6°C)
- Florida: 74°F / 51°F (23°C / 11°C)*
- New Orleans: 65°F / 46°F (18°C / 7°C)
*average temp given for Orlando, Florida (see Florida link below for average January temperatures for cities throughout Florida
Helpful February Weather Links for Top Tourist Destinations