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America’s 50 Coldest Cities

24/7 Wall St. logo 24/7 Wall St. 11/21/2018 Evan Comen


a man riding a snowboard down a snow covered slope © Spencer Platt / Getty Images

According to a recent forecast by the National Weather Service, a pipeline of Arctic air may bring temperatures to record lows in the Northeast over the next several days.

Temperatures are expected to reach a low of 20 degrees in New York City tomorrow -- in what would be the coldest Thanksgiving Day in the Big Apple since 1901 -- with frigid winds blowing up to 25 miles per hour during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

While a freezing Thanksgiving may be new to some New Yorkers, there are dozens of cities that spend more than half the year in sub 32-degree weather. A majority of these cities have record low temperatures below minus 45 degrees, and receive more than 60 inches of snow every year.

Using daily temperatures tracked over a 30-year period, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines the normal high and low temperatures for every month for over 250 cities. To identify America’s 50 coldest cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the minimum average temperature for the coldest month from 1981 to 2010 for every city with at least 10,000 residents with data from the NOAA.

Click here to see America's 50 coldest cities.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Missoula, Montana © Wikimedia Commons Missoula, Montana

50. Missoula, Montana
> Normal low in coldest month: 16.7° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -33° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 45.6 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 5.5 mph
> Population: 69,190

Chicago, Illinois © Wikimedia Commons Chicago, Illinois

49. Chicago, Illinois
> Normal low in coldest month: 16.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -27° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 39.1 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.9 mph
> Population: 2,717,534

Pocatello, Idaho © Wikimedia Commons Pocatello, Idaho

48. Pocatello, Idaho
> Normal low in coldest month: 16.0° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -33° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 40.0 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.6 mph
> Population: 54,549

Kalispell, Montana © Thinkstock Kalispell, Montana

47. Kalispell, Montana
> Normal low in coldest month: 15.8° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -38° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 60.6 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 5.0 mph
> Population: 21,142

Syracuse, New York © Thinkstock Syracuse, New York

46. Syracuse, New York
> Normal low in coldest month: 15.7° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -26° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 113.9 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.3 mph
> Population: 144,564

Binghamton, New York © Wikimedia Commons Binghamton, New York

45. Binghamton, New York
> Normal low in coldest month: 15.7° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -20° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 84.0 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.9 mph
> Population: 46,495

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 3 © Thinkstock Milwaukee, Wisconsin 3

44. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
> Normal low in coldest month: 15.6° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -26° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 48.3 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.2 mph
> Population: 599,498

Flint, Michigan © Wikimedia Commons Flint, Michigan

43. Flint, Michigan
> Normal low in coldest month: 15.3° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -25° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 48.3 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.1 mph
> Population: 99,802

Great Falls, Montana © Thinkstock Great Falls, Montana

42. Great Falls, Montana
> Normal low in coldest month: 14.9° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -43° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 60.4 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 11.5 mph
> Population: 59,563

Lincoln, Nebraska © Thinkstock Lincoln, Nebraska

41. Lincoln, Nebraska
> Normal low in coldest month: 14.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -33° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 26.9 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.8 mph
> Population: 269,726

Albany, New York © Wikimedia Commons Albany, New York

40. Albany, New York
> Normal low in coldest month: 14.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -28° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 61.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 7.9 mph
> Population: 98,468

Grand Island, Nebraska © Wikimedia Commons Grand Island, Nebraska

39. Grand Island, Nebraska
> Normal low in coldest month: 14.4° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -28° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 29.2 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 11.1 mph
> Population: 50,582

Moline, Illinois © Wikimedia Commons Moline, Illinois

38. Moline, Illinois
> Normal low in coldest month: 14.3° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -28° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 33.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.5 mph
> Population: 43,062

Pueblo, Colorado © Wikimedia Commons Pueblo, Colorado

37. Pueblo, Colorado
> Normal low in coldest month: 14.0° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -28° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 30.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.3 mph
> Population: 108,073

Elko, Nevada © Provided by 24/7 Wall St. Elko, Nevada

36. Elko, Nevada
> Normal low in coldest month: 13.9° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -43° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 38.7 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 5.7 mph
> Population: 19,709

Omaha, Nebraska © Wikimedia Commons Omaha, Nebraska

35. Omaha, Nebraska
> Normal low in coldest month: 13.6° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -23° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 29.1 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.0 mph
> Population: 440,034

Casper, Wyoming © Wikimedia Commons Casper, Wyoming

34. Casper, Wyoming
> Normal low in coldest month: 13.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -41° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 76.9 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 12.0 mph
> Population: 58,817

Rockford, Illinois © Wikimedia Commons Rockford, Illinois

33. Rockford, Illinois
> Normal low in coldest month: 13.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -27° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 36.2 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.2 mph
> Population: 150,283

Portland Lighthouse, Maine © Thinkstock Portland Lighthouse, Maine

32. Portland, Maine
> Normal low in coldest month: 13.4° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -39° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 69.6 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.0 mph
> Population: 66,490

Rapid City, South Dakota © Thinkstock Rapid City, South Dakota

31. Rapid City, South Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: 12.9° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -31° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 42.2 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.7 mph
> Population: 71,692

Scottsbluff, Nebraska © Wikimedia Commons Scottsbluff, Nebraska

30. Scottsbluff, Nebraska
> Normal low in coldest month: 12.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -46° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 38.4 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.8 mph
> Population: 14,955

Norfolk, Nebraska © Wikimedia Commons Norfolk, Nebraska

29. Norfolk, Nebraska
> Normal low in coldest month: 12.1° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -30° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 29.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.7 mph
> Population: 24,393

Helena, Montana © Wikimedia Commons Helena, Montana

28. Helena, Montana
> Normal low in coldest month: 11.9° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -42° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 43.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 6.9 mph
> Population: 29,600

Alpena, Michigan © Wikimedia Commons Alpena, Michigan

27. Alpena, Michigan
> Normal low in coldest month: 11.4° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -37° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 75.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 7.7 mph
> Population: 10,273

Des Moines, Iowa © Wikimedia Commons Des Moines, Iowa

26. Des Moines, Iowa
> Normal low in coldest month: 11.4° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -26° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 34.9 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.9 mph
> Population: 208,020

Dubuque, Iowa © Wikimedia Commons Dubuque, Iowa

25. Dubuque, Iowa
> Normal low in coldest month: 11.2° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -30° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 43.3 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.3 mph
> Population: 58,409

Madison, Wisconsin © Provided by 24/7 Wall St. Madison, Wisconsin

24. Madison, Wisconsin
> Normal low in coldest month: 11.1° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -37° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 44.5 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.3 mph
> Population: 243,122

North Platte, Nebraksa: Grand Island, Nebraska © Wikimedia Commons Grand Island, Nebraska

23. North Platte, Nebraska
> Normal low in coldest month: 11.1° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -34° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 29.7 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.3 mph
> Population: 24,420

Anchorage, Alaska © Thinkstock Anchorage, Alaska

22. Anchorage, Alaska
> Normal low in coldest month: 11.1° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -34° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 73.7 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 7.0 mph
> Population: 299,107

Sheridan, Wyoming © Wikimedia Commons Sheridan, Wyoming

21. Sheridan, Wyoming
> Normal low in coldest month: 10.6° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -37° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 73.1 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 7.2 mph
> Population: 17,775

Concord, New Hampshire © Wikimedia Commons Concord, New Hampshire

20. Concord, New Hampshire
> Normal low in coldest month: 10.4° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -37° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 65.1 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 6.0 mph
> Population: 42,537

Sioux City, Iowa © Thinkstock Sioux City, Iowa

19. Sioux City, Iowa
> Normal low in coldest month: 10.2° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -26° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 33.4 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.4 mph
> Population: 82,792

Burlington, Vermont © Wikimedia Commons Burlington, Vermont

18. Burlington, Vermont
> Normal low in coldest month: 10.2° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -30° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 80.4 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.3 mph
> Population: 42,570

downtown_waterloo_iowa © Provided by 24/7 Wall St. downtown_waterloo_iowa

17. Waterloo, Iowa
> Normal low in coldest month: 9.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -34° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 33.3 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.8 mph
> Population: 68,432

Green Bay, Wisconsin © Thinkstock Green Bay, Wisconsin

16. Green Bay, Wisconsin
> Normal low in coldest month: 9.0° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -36° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 49.2 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.8 mph
> Population: 104,847

La Crosse-Onalaska, Wisconsin © Wikimedia Commons La Crosse-Onalaska, Wisconsin

15. La Crosse, Wisconsin
> Normal low in coldest month: 8.9° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -37° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 42.4 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.6 mph
> Population: 51,993

Rochester, Minnesota © Wikimedia Commons Rochester, Minnesota

14. Rochester, Minnesota
> Normal low in coldest month: 7.7° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -40° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 44.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 12.2 mph
> Population: 110,275

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan © Wikimedia Commons Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

13. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
> Normal low in coldest month: 7.6° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -37° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 118.3 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 7.8 mph
> Population: 14,048

Minneapolis, Minnesota © Thinkstock Minneapolis, Minnesota

12. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
> Normal low in coldest month: 7.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -34° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 49.4 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.7 mph
> Population: 694,993

Sioux Falls, South Dakota © Wikimedia Commons Sioux Falls, South Dakota

11. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: 6.9° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -36° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 40.6 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.3 mph
> Population: 164,341

Huron, South Dakota © https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdho/ Huron, South Dakota

10. Huron, South Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: 6.6° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -43° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 36.2 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.4 mph
> Population: 13,159

Marquette, Michigan © Wikimedia Commons Marquette, Michigan

9. Marquette, Michigan
> Normal low in coldest month: 5.2° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -34° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 149.1 in.
> Avg. wind speed: N/A
> Population: 21,444

Bismarck, North Dakota © Wikimedia Commons Bismarck, North Dakota

8. Bismarck, North Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: 2.2° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -44° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 45.3 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.4 mph
> Population: 66,980

St. Cloud, Minnesota © Wikimedia Commons St. Cloud, Minnesota

7. St. Cloud, Minnesota
> Normal low in coldest month: 1.8° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -43° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 44.7 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 8.3 mph
> Population: 66,298

Aberdeen, South Dakota © Wikimedia Commons Aberdeen, South Dakota

6. Aberdeen, South Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: 1.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -46° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 38.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.7 mph
> Population: 27,418

Duluth, Minnesota © Thinkstock Duluth, Minnesota

5. Duluth, Minnesota
> Normal low in coldest month: 1.5° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -39° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 83.1 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.1 mph
> Population: 86,178

Fargo, North Dakota 2 © Thinkstock Fargo, North Dakota 2

4. Fargo, North Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: 0.1° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -39° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 42.3 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 11.1 mph
> Population: 113,464

Williston, North Dakota © Wikimedia Commons Williston, North Dakota

3. Williston, North Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: 0.1° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -50° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 35.8 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 9.2 mph
> Population: 22,051

Grand Forks, North Dakota © Wikimedia Commons Grand Forks, North Dakota

2. Grand Forks, North Dakota
> Normal low in coldest month: -3.1° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -43° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 41.6 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 10.2 mph
> Population: 54,944

Fairbanks, Alaska © https://www.flickr.com/photos/11127719@N04/ Fairbanks, Alaska

1. Fairbanks, Alaska
> Normal low in coldest month: -16.9° F
> Lowest temp. on record: -66° F
> Annual avg. snowfall: 64.5 in.
> Avg. wind speed: 4.4 mph
> Population: 32,193

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Six of these 50 cities -- Flint, Michigan; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Duluth, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; Waterloo, Iowa; and Lincoln, Nebraska -- reported the coldest Dec. 23 through Jan 5. period on record in the past two weeks. Lincoln experienced a low of minus 17 degrees on Dec. 27, the city’s record for the day, and Flint set a daily record low on Jan. 5, when the temperature reached 10 degrees below zero.

Most of the cities on this list are located in the Midwest, with the top 10 coldest cities mostly in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Overall, the list includes cities from 19 states. Six of the 50 coldest cities are in Nebraska -- the most in any state.

The coldest cities not only have the lowest temperatures, but also the longest winters. While winter is considered to last for about 90 days, all of these cities have at least 120 days a year when temperatures drop below freezing. In Fairbanks, Alaska, the temperature is below 32 degrees 226 days a year.

In nearly one-third of the coldest cities, more than 5 feet of snow falls every year. Snow can be extremely costly for local governments. This is especially true in dense urban areas where snow needs to be fully removed and not just pushed to the side of the road.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota -- which gets over four feet of snow annually -- snow removal can cost $202,000 per inch, according to local reports. In the 2013-2014 winter season, Minneapolis spent $136 million on snow removal, up from $62 million in the previous winter season.

Extremely cold climates can be dangerous to those not wearing appropriate clothing. When wind speeds are high, humans and animals feel even lower temperatures due to the wind chill effect. In Fargo, North Dakota, a relatively windy area, the average wind speed is 11.1 miles per hour. With the wind chill, Fargo's average low temperature of 0.1 degrees in January feels like minus 16.7 degrees.

In extremely low temperatures, even calm winds have dramatic effects. In Fairbanks, the average wind speed is only 4.4 miles per hour. Still, with the wind chill, the average low temperature of minus 16.9 degrees feels like minus 29.2 degrees. According to the NOAA, frostbite can occur within only 30 minutes in these conditions.

To determine America’s 50 coldest cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the minimum average temperature for each city’s coldest month between 1981 and 2010 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The cities listed have medium to large populations and are near weather stations, also known as Local Climatological Data stations. Record low temperatures, average annual snowfall, and average wind speed come from NOAA’s 2015 Comparative Climatic Data report. The record low temperature and average annual snowfall for Marquette, Michigan is from 2012, the most recent data available for the city. We also used population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey to ensure each city has at least 10,000 residents.

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