Cold Weather in USA

Coldest Temperatures in the United States

When the temperature drops to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45.6 degrees Celsius) or below in the United States, records tend to shatter. Harshly cold weather, with temperatures in the range of -50 to -70 °F rarely happens. In fact most states in the US have never gotten that cold.

In just six states, besides Alaska, have temperatures officially reached into the minus 60s Fahrenheit (below -51 °C): Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Another 11 states have had temperatures drop to at least minus 50 °F.

(The minus 69 °F temperature reported in Utah, although regarded as accurate, isn't considered an official weather record. The temperature was measured at an unusual geological feature which creates exceptionally cold air. Peter's Sink is a limestone sinkhole located high in the mountains of northern Utah.)

The tables below list over 150 places that have experienced America's coldest temperatures. These are places where weather stations in the 48 contiguous states have measured temperatures of minus 50 or less.

Where the Lowest Temperatures Happen

The region of coldest temperatures extends along the continental divide and spans the northern states, crossing the country from Maine to Oregon. Most of the very lowest of temperatures in the contiguous US have happened in the mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

Extreme cold concentrates mainly in the mountains of western Montana. The combination of high latitude with high elevation means that Montana has more weather stations reporting exceptionally low temperatures than anywhere else. Montana is also home to the lowest temperature ever documented for the contiguous US, minus 70 °F (-56.7 °C) on January 20, 1954 at Rogers Pass.

The southernmost state to reach minus 50 is New Mexico, where Gavilan, northwest of Santa Fe, achieved -50 °F on February 1, 1951. For New Mexico along with the northeastern states of Maine, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire, getting down to minus 50 has been an exceedingly rare event.

When Temperatures Go Low

Even in colder states, temperatures below minus 50 happen infrequently. That kind of cold does not appear every winter.

Temperatures down to minus 50 have shown up anytime from just before Christmas in December until the end of February. The lowest temperatures, minus 60 or below, can occur between early January and mid February.

Outside of the three winter months, minus-50-degree weather is unheard of, with one odd exception. The earliest that such bitterly cold weather has struck was November 16, 1959 when it plummeted to -53 °F (-47.2 °C) in Lincoln, Montana.

Places in the contiguous United States with the coldest temperatures
Place °F °C Day
Rogers Pass, Montana-70-56.7Jan 20, 1954
Peter's Sink, Utah-69-56.1Feb 1, 1985
Riverside Ranger Station, Yellowstone, Wyoming-66-54.4Feb 9, 1933
West Yellowstone, Montana-66-54.4Feb 9, 1933
Moran, Wyoming-63-52.8Feb 9, 1933
Darwin Ranch, Wyoming-62-52.2Feb 10, 1981
Maybell, Colorado-61-51.7Feb1, 1985
Border, Wyoming-60-51.1Feb8, 1929
Hebgen Dam, Montana-60-51.1Feb 12, 1905
Island Park, Idaho-60-51.1Jan 18, 1943
Maybell, Colorado-60-51.1Jan 1, 1979
Parshall, North Dakota-60-51.1Feb 15, 1936
Taylor Park, Colorado-60-51.1Feb 1, 1951
Tower, Minnesota-60-51.1Feb 2, 1996
West Yellowstone, Montana-60-51.1Jan 12, 1963
Where and when the temperature has dropped to minus 50 °F or below in the contiguous US
Place °F °C Day
Glasgow, Montana-59-50.6February 15, 1936
Thoeny, Montana-59-50.6January 20, 1954
West Yellowstone, Montana-59-50.6December 19, 1924
Jordan, Montana-58-50.0February 14, 1936
McIntosh, South Dakota-58-50.0February 17, 1936
Medicine Lake, Montana-58-50.0February 16, 1936
Bondurant, Wyoming-57-49.4February 1, 1951
Camp Crook, South Dakota -57-49.4January 12, 1916
Cascade, Montana-57-49.4February 15, 1936
Chester, Montana-57-49.4January 25, 1950
Culbertson, Montana-57-49.4February 16, 1936
Embarrass, Minnesota-57-49.4January 20, 1996
Frazer, Montana-57-49.4January 20, 1954
Havre, Montana-57-49.4January 27, 1916
Wolf Point, Montana -57-49.4January 26, 1950
Browning, Montana-56-48.9January 24, 1916
Fairview, Montana-56-48.9February 15, 1936
Lake Yellowstone, Wyoming-56-48.9February 9, 1933
Malta, Montana-56-48.9January 12, 1916
Couderay, Wisconsin-55-48.3February 2, 1996
Dixon, Wyoming-55-48.3January 12, 1963
Hinsdale, Montana-55-48.3January 25, 1969
Lamar Ranger Station, Wyoming-55-48.3January 10, 1962
Sugarloaf Reservoir, Colorado-55-48.3January 10, 1962
Summit, Montana-55-48.3January 3, 1959
Trident, Montana-55-48.3December 31, 1927
Wisdom, Montana-55-48.3December 23, 1983
Antero Reservoir, Colorado-54-47.8January 10, 1962
Brainerd, Minnesota -54-47.8February 2, 1996
Echeta, Wyoming -54-47.8December 24, 1983
Hinsdale, Montana-54-47.8January 26, 1950
Ingomar, Montana-54-47.8December 22, 1989
Loma , Montana-54-47.8January 14, 1972
Popla, Montana-54-47.8February 2, 1893
Seneca, Oregon-54-47.8February 10, 1933
Stanley, Idaho-54-47.8December 23, 1983
Steamboat Springs, Colorado-54-47.8January 7, 1913
Ukiah, Oregon-54-47.8February 9, 1933
Fosston, Minnesota-53-47.2February 1, 1996
Fraser, Colorado-53-47.2January 10, 1962
Huntley, Montana -53-47.2February 14, 1936
Lincoln, Montana -53-47.2November 16, 1959
Lone Rock Tri County Airport, Wisconsin-53-47.2January 30, 1951
Moose Lake, Minnesota-53-47.2January 15, 1972
Pine River Dam, Minnesota-53-47.2January 12, 1912
Redstone, Montana-53-47.2January 20, 1954
Savage, Montana-53-47.2February 16, 1936
Tiber Dam, Montana-53-47.2January 20, 1954
Austin, Oregon-52-46.7January 8, 1937
Babb, Montana-52-46.7January 30, 1950
Baudette, Minnesota-52-46.7February 19, 1966
Big Sandy, Montana-52-46.7February 15, 1936
Boulder Rearing Station, Wyoming-52-46.7December 22, 1990
Bredette, Montana-52-46.7January 20, 1954
Busby, Montana-52-46.7December 22, 1989
Butte, Montana-52-46.7February 9, 1933
Elbowoods, North Dakota-52-46.7January 18, 1950
Fairfield, Idaho-52-46.7December 22, 1990
Farson, Wyoming-52-46.7December 31, 1978
Havre, Montana-52-46.7January 24, 1969
Itasca, Minnesota-52-46.7February 2, 1996
Kendall, Wyoming-52-46.7January 17, 1930
La Barge, Wyoming-52-46.7December 23, 1990
Lonesome Lake, Montana-52-46.7January 24, 1969
Mora, Minnesota-52-46.7December 18, 1983
Old Forge, New York-52-46.7February 18, 1979
Ovando, Montana-52-46.7February 9, 1933
Plevna, Montana-52-46.7January 12, 1916
Roseau, Minnesota-52-46.7February 2, 1996
Roundup, Montana-52-46.7February 15, 1936
Tamarac Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota-52-46.7February 1, 1996
Wright, Minnesota-52-46.7January 15, 1972
Augusta, Montana-51-46.1January 10, 1909
Babbitt, Minnesota-51-46.1January 17, 2005
Big Falls Hydro, Wisconsin-51-46.1February 2, 1996
Big Falls, Minnesota-51-46.1January 20, 1996
Crookston, Minnesota-51-46.1February 15, 1936
Eagle Airport, Colorado-51-46.1January 12, 1963
Forks, Montana-51-46.1January 12, 1916
Grand Rapids, Minnesota-51-46.1January 26, 1927
Hatfield Dam, Wisconsin -51-46.1January 30, 1951
Idaho Falls, Idaho-51-46.1January 12, 1963
Lame Deer, Montana-51-46.1December 22, 1989
Langdon, North Dakota-51-46.1February 16, 1936
Malta, Montana -51-46.1January 24, 1969
Marcell, Minnesota-51-46.1February 3, 1996
Meadowlands, Minnesota-51-46.1January 30, 1950
Minong, Wisconsin-51-46.1January 15, 1972
Opheim, Montana-51-46.1February 28, 1962
Ovando, Montana-51-46.1January 26, 1957
Park Rapids, Minnesota-51-46.1February 2, 1996
Recluse, Wyoming-51-46.1December 24, 1983
Remer, Minnesota-51-46.1February 2, 1996
Ridgeway, Montana-51-46.1December 22, 1989
Sage, Wyoming-51-46.1January 1, 1979
Sun River, Montana-51-46.1December 29, 1968
Ten Sleep, Wyoming-51-46.1December 22, 1990
Thorhult, Minnesota-51-46.1February 1, 1996
Vanderbilt, Michigan-51-46.1February 9, 1934
West Yellowstone, Montana-51-46.1January 12, 2007
Worland, Wyoming-51-46.1January 17, 1930
Yellowstone National Park, Montana-51-46.1January 12, 1963
Zortman, Montana-51-46.1December 22, 1990
Almont, North Dakota-50-45.6December 23, 1983
Baggs, Wyoming-50-45.6January 18, 1984
Ballantine, Montana-50-45.6February 15, 1936
Bemidji, Minnesota-50-45.6January 30, 1950
Big Black River, Maine-50-45.6January 16, 2009
Big Piney, Wyoming-50-45.6December 23, 1983
Bigfork, Minnesota-50-45.6January 15, 1972
Bloomfield, Vermont-50-45.6December 30, 1933
Brimson, Minnesota-50-45.6January 31, 1996
Chinook, Montana-50-45.6January 20, 1954
Choteau, Montana-50-45.6February 15, 1936
Cook, Minnesota-50-45.6January 14, 1965
Cotton, Minnesota-50-45.6January 14, 1965
Crow Agency, Montana-50-45.6February 15, 1936
Daniel Fish Hatchery, Wyoming-50-45.6December 22, 1990
Denton, Montana-50-45.6December 24, 1983
Driggs, Idaho-50-45.6February 9, 1933
Eureka Ranger Station, Montana-50-45.6December 30, 1968
Floodwood, Minnesota-50-45.6January 20, 1996
Gavilan, New Mexico-50-45.6February 1, 1951
Glendive, Montana-50-45.6February 16, 1936
Harlem , Montana-50-45.6January 24, 1969
Hibbing Airport, Minnesota-50-45.6January 20, 1996
Hysham, Montana-50-45.6December 22, 1989
Jackson, Wyoming-50-45.6January 1, 1979
Lake George, Colorado-50-45.6January 10, 1962
Lake Yellowstone, Wyoming-50-45.6January 12, 1963
Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin-50-45.6January 30, 1951
Laramie Airport, Wyoming-50-45.6January 12, 1963
Littlefork, Minnesota-50-45.6February 2, 1996
Loring , Montana-50-45.6January 20, 1954
Many Glacier, Montana-50-45.6January 27, 1972
Mildred, Montana-50-45.6February 16, 1936
Mitchell, South Dakota -50-45.6January 25, 1955
Mount Washington, New Hampshire-50-45.6January 22, 1885
Potomac, Montana-50-45.6December 23, 1983
Red Lake Falls, Minnesota-50-45.6January 21, 1954
Saco, Montana-50-45.6January 25, 1969
San Jacinto, Nevada-50-45.6January 8, 1937
Spicer, Colorado-50-45.6February 6, 1989
Strawberry Tunnel East, Utah-50-45.6January 5, 1913
Tioga, North Dakota-50-45.6December 24, 1983
Williston, North Dakota-50-45.6December 23, 1983
Worland Airport, Wyoming-50-45.6December 21, 1990
Reference

National Climatic Data Center. Comparative Climatic Data.

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AMERICAN WEATHER