Coldest States in America

Alaska, not surprisingly, outperforms all other US states when it comes to cold weather. After all, Alaska has the advantage of being many miles closer to the north pole than anywhere else in the United States.

In the lower 48 states though, which state is the coldest depends upon the time of year. North Dakota tops the list of coldest states in winter and fall, based on state-wide average temperatures. During spring, Maine is coldest, while in summer it's Wyoming.

Some states are among the ten coldest states year round. Consistently cold throughout the year are Maine, Vermont, Montana and Wyoming.

Other states make the list of ten coldest in every season but summer. Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota are states that get a break in summer from ranking in the ten coldest.

It is because Minnesota and North Dakota get so exceptionally cold in winter, that they place just behind Alaska for the lowest annual average temperature. The north-central states have temperatures in December and January that average about six degrees Fahrenheit (3 °C) below those of the next chilliest states.

Meanwhile, Oregon and Washington don't compete on average for bitterly cold winter weather, but they also don't warm up much in summer. So the Pacific Northwest states only join the ranks of ten coldest in summer.

Since these rankings are for state-wide average temperatures, they don't show variations in temperatures within a state. States like Washington that have high, glacier-topped mountains certainly do have some really cold places in winter. But most of the state is much milder.

The 10 coldest states in the US, based on state-wide average temperatures.
Rank Year Winter Summer
1 Alaska Alaska Alaska
2 North Dakota North Dakota Wyoming
3 Maine Minnesota Idaho
4 Minnesota Maine Maine
5 Wyoming Wisconsin Oregon
6 Montana Vermont Washington
7 Vermont South Dakota Montana
8 Wisconsin New Hampshire Vermont
9 New Hampshire Montana Colorado
10 Idaho & Michigan (tie) Wyoming New Hampshire
State Temperatures
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