At a Glance
Temperatures begin to feel like spring in March and April for most of the United States.
Warmer temperatures have arrived much earlier in some years.
Spring is thought of differently depending on the region of the country.
The recent arctic outbreak has many eager for spring warmth, so when do temperatures typically warm up and really feel like spring?
To find the answer, we took a look at when, on average, selected cities across the U.S. see the first 70- or 80-degree day based on climate averages. We also examined when the earliest and latest each temperature was reached.
Springlike warmth emerges in late March and early April in the South. Areas in the Northeast, Midwest and interior West wait closer to May to regularly experience mild conditions.
It’s important to note that different parts of the country think of spring differently. In the northern tier, highs in the 60s can be reminiscent of spring because 60s are common average high temperatures in April for much of the Northeast, Midwest and portions of the West.
However, in the South, many people will wear light jackets or sweaters until highs top out in the 70s, and it may not feel like spring for some until temperatures climb closer to 80 degrees.
Northeast Waits Until April
The first 70-degree day happens by the end of March for most locations in the mid-Atlantic and interior Northeast. Areas closer to Washington D.C. reaching that milestone in February. Parts of New England and upstate New York, however, don’t normally hit 70 degrees until April.
Most of the Northeast will wait until April to see temperatures in the 80s. The latest initial 80-degree day has occurred in late May or June.
The first glimpse of spring has come as early as January for most cities in the Northeast. The earliest 70-degree temperatures recorded for much of the region is in early January, like in Boston last year on Jan. 11. Late January into mid-February is when the first 60-degree temperature of the year is usually recorded here.
Although it warms noticeably in March and April, temperatures still typically drop below freezing well into spring. Washington D.C. usually sees the last day at or below 32 degrees around March 27, while Burlington, Vermont, waits until May 7.
South Warms Up Earlier
Milder conditions occur in the South much sooner than the in Northeast. Temperatures in the 70s typically occur in January, although the latest 70-degree temperatures on record in Atlanta and Nashville are in early April. For many in the South, it won’t feel like spring until temperatures climb well into the 70s.
The first 80-degree day usually occurs in late February in Dallas and New Orleans, while much of the Southeast waits until March. Even with the arctic outbreak this month, Dallas climbed to 81 degrees on Feb. 23, 2021.
Highs in the 80s have occurred in January in much of the South. However, Atlanta has waited until early May for its first 80-degree day, but in 2019 it recorded its earliest 80-degree temperature on Feb. 7.
Temperatures warm up even more in May, when highs in the 90s become more common.
Cold overnight lows also end sooner in the South. The last freezing temperatures of the season typically occur around March 8 in Charleston, South Carolina. Nashville usually waits until April 3.
Mild Midwest By May
By mid-April, much of the region usually begins to shed the cold of winter and enjoy the milder temperatures of spring. Areas farther south in the Midwest, including Indianapolis and St. Louis, warm up much sooner than areas closer to the Canadian border.
The average first 70-degree temperature occurs from mid-March to mid-April for most of the region, but warm temperatures can come earlier. The first 70-degree day of the year has taken place in January and February in some years, from the southern Great Lakes southward.
Many locations have recorded 80-degree temperatures in March or even earlier. St. Louis saw its earliest 80-degree day on Feb. 1, 1911, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, Fargo waited until June 21 in 1945.
Last year, Chicago recorded its first 70-degree temperature on April 3 and its first 80-degree reading four days later.
The last freeze of the season is normally expected until mid-April in Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis. This also coincides closely with the average first 80-degree day.