Exploring February weather on Long Island

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Congrats! We've made it through the first full month of winter. A little less than two to go.

February can often be just as cruel as January, if not worse.

The month begins with daily average highs/lows of 38/24. Unlike the very small change from start to finish January has, February wraps up with about a 5 degree rise (43/27). Oh, and that's the same for both the 28th AND the 29th (Happy Leap Year!)

February's all-time warmest day was in 1976, when it reached 68 on the 17th. The coldest was a bone-chilling -14 on the 13th in 1967.

While not much warmer, at least it will be lighter, longer! By the end of February, there’ll be an added one hour and seven minutes of daylight, with sunrise at 6:29 a.m. and sunset at 5:42 p.m.

February is also typically our snowiest month, averaging of 7.1".

The snowiest year for February was 2013 where we picked up 31.4", and pretty much all of that came in one fell swoop between the 8th and 9th - a whopping 27.8"! Some parts of Suffolk were buried under 2.5-3 FEET of snow! (Upton 30.9”, Centereach 31.8", Medford 33.5”)

Up until that point, we had only seen 5.3" of snow that winter (besides a freak early November storm that dropped 4.2"), and then received a meager 2.2" for the rest of the month after the blizzard. All it takes is one big storm and things can change in a hurry! 

Dozens of motorists were forced to abandon their vehicles on Route 347 in Lake Grove after incredibly heavy snow from the '13 blizzard made the road impassable.


February 15-16, 1958 - Blizzard
17" in Upton, 10" at Mitchel Field, 12" in East Hampton, 22" in Westhampton. 60 mph wind gusts and arctic temperatures made it feel unbearable.

February 2-4, 1961 - Snowstorm
JFK received 24", with Long Island averaging around 18", 10-foot snow drifts and 35 mph winds. Tides 2 feet above normal tore up boat decks on South Shore. At least 500 cars were abandoned on roadways, and vehicles were banned in New York City for almost a week. Temps remained below freezing for 16 consecutive days!

February 9, 1969 - “Lindsay Blizzard”, Oops #1
NYC 20.2", JFK 20.1", Long Island 9-24". 60 mph winds and subfreezing temps. The forecast called for light snow changing to rain. 6,000 people were stranded at JFK, and the LIRR was shut down. Following the event, New York Mayor John Lindsay was harshly criticized for failing to respond adequately to the storm. Some areas of the city remained uncleared for over a week, and schools were closed for several days.

February 6, 1978 - Snowstorm
26" in Ronkonkoma, 24" in Riverhead, 23" in Upton. A 12-foot tide at Port Jefferson led to flooding. 75 mph winds. Long Island was completely paralyzed, as roads were roads impassable - 300 cars were abandoned. Six houses collapsed on Fire Island, and many other homes were evacuated in coastal areas due to flooding.

February 19, 1979 - Oops #2
An unexpected snowstorm dumped 15 inches at Brookaven National Lab. The forecast was 2-4". Occurred on Washington’s Birthday and brought holiday shopping to a standstill. It was also the 11th straight day of sub-freezing temperatures. 

February 17, 2003 - “Presidents Day Blizzard”
21" in Upton, 18.5" in Setauket. Wind gusts to 55 mph led to 6-foot drifts. Temps in the 20s. All airports closed. Two deaths from shoveling.

February 12, 2006 - Nor'easter
Brought blizzard-like conditions to the Tri-state area. Great Neck 23.6", Woodbury 20.0", Islip 20.0". It set the NYC record for biggest snowstorm at 26.9", which was broken 10 years later. Airports were completely shut down, and numerous accidents ensued.


February 24-25, 2016 - Severe Weather
Severe thunderstorms overnight produced wind gusts as high as 64 mph and caused  considerable damage. Trees came down across homes, cars, streets, and power lines (98,000 outages). North Hempstead, Oyster Bay, and Huntington were some of the hardest hit areas. Many roads remained closed for days. Numerous schools were delayed/closed the next day. The winds also produced 8-12 foot waves - the Coast Guard had to rescue a boat that had capsized!

February 2, 2011 - Groundhog Day Ice Storm
A half inch layer of ice cause hundreds of accidents, spin-outs and rollovers. In addition to airport and railroad delays/cancellations, 18,000 power outages were reported.

February 12, 2009 - Windstorm
50-60 mph gusts led to widespread downed trees. Blowing debris was an issue, causing one death and 10 injuries. The storm also caused numerous flight delays and 12,000 power outages.

February 14, 2007 - Valentine's Day Ice Storm
A 2" combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain wreaked havoc across the Island. Roads became treacherous. There were scores of accidents, flights canceled, about 130,000 passengers stranded, some as long as 10 hours aboard grounded planes, and 61,000 outages.

February 22 - March 1, 2005
Three snowstorms in one week! Fortunately they weren't huge, totaling 15-20". In fact, they were all quite similar in output:
6.3" (20th-21nd)
6.5" (24th-25th)


February of 2015
The coldest February on record. It was so cold, that slushy waves were seen breaking on the South Shore beaches!

February 9, 1934
Just west of here, NYC saw its temperature to the lowest in recorded history: -15 degrees!



High temp: 38
Low temp: 24
Warmest: 59 in 1973
Coldest: 7 in 1994
Most snow: 4.9" in 2015

Curious about Punxsutawney Phil's track record? Well, according to Stormfax Almanac's data, the fur ball has only been accurate 39% of the time.

I prefer to stick to our local prognosticators like Holtsville Hal and Malverne Mel!


Let's be honest, this feels like a holiday for many! (At least the Monday after should be.)

New York, errr, New Jersey has only hosted one Super Bowl in 2014, coincidentally also the last time the big game fell on 2/2. Conditions were quite pleasant that day, with an afternoon high of 52 degrees and game time temperatures in the 40s. Consider it lucky; the next day featured 7" of snow and the next year nearly 5'!


High temp: 40
Low temp: 25
Warmest: 60 in 1990
Coldest: -1 in 1979
Most snow: 3.0" in 1996


High temp: 41
Low temp: 25
Warmest: 68 in 1976
Coldest: 0 in 1979
Most snow: 21" in 2003*
*measurement from Upton, as Islip is missing snow data from this year


The emoji that best describes February weather is....


February can be a busy month, and us forecasters have to keep a close eye on any potential storms!

It's also Valentine's month! Don't forget about your loved one....


We have gotten pretty lucky so far this winter (or unlucky if you love snow), but I have it on good authority that February will buck the trend, at least a little. I foresee an active pattern and slightly colder than normal temperatures, meaning an increased chance for at least moderate snows. I don't see any historic blizzards, but enough to satisfy the powder lovers (for now).

Fearless Forecast: 13" of snow, temperatures 2.2 below normal


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