Kansas City, Missouri
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Some cities just sound cold.
Despite their best attempts to promote their pleasant summer weather, Chicago and Buffalo, New York, for example, may be a couple of U.S. cities that first come to mind when the word cold is mentioned.

But do statistics back their shivering reputation? What really are America’s coldest major cities?

There are many ways to quantify this.

Using 30-year average temperatures (1981 to 2010) from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) during the months of December, January and February, we compiled the 20 coldest major U.S. cities. We didn’t rank cities based on their record-coldest temperatures, but rather which cities are persistently the coldest in those three core winter months.

By large cities, we considered the 100 most populous U.S. cities, according to City-Data.com.

Let’s now count down the 20 coldest major U.S. cities.

#1: Minneapolis/St. Paul (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 18.7 °F)
#2: Anchorage, Alaska (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 18.8 °F)
#3: Madison, Wisconsin (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 21.6 °F)
#4: Milwaukee (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 24.9 °F)
#5: Omaha, Nebraska (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 25.9 °F)
#6: Chicago (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 26.4 °F)
#7: Lincoln, Nebraska (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 26.8 °F)
#8: Rochester, New York (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 27 °F)
#9: Buffalo, New York (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 27.1 °F)
#10: Fort Wayne, Indiana (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 27.4 °F)
#11: Toledo, Ohio (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 27.8 °F)
#12: Detroit (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 27.9 °F)
#13: Akron, Ohio (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 28.5 °F)
#14: Cleveland (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 30.3 °F)
#15: Indianapolis (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 30.6 °F)
#16: Colorado Springs, Colorado (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 30.8 °F)
#17: Pittsburgh (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 31.1 °F)
#18: Denver (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 31.2 °F)
#19: Kansas City, Missouri (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 31.3 °F)
#20: Boston (Avg Dec-Feb Temp: 31.8 °F)

Every state in the continental U.S. has seen temperatures drop below zero – even Florida dropped to 2 degrees below zero on Feb. 13, 1899. The only state that has not seen a subzero temperature is Hawai’i.
The map above indicates the coldest temperature ever recorded in all 50 states, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


Image courtesy Jamie Squire/Getty Images, Flickr/Beverly and Pack, and NOAA

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