Top 5 Coldest Cities in the United States | Coldest Winter Cities | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Top 5 Coldest Cities in the United States

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America's Coldest Cities

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What are the top 5 coldest cities in the United States? Here’s the list, based on average temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. Does this surprise you?

“No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

Top 5 Coldest Cities

For this list, we’re not looking at the cities that have experienced the coldest temperatures, but rather the cities that have been the most consistently frigid. Let’s count them down! (Note: This list is based on data from between January 1 and February 1, 2019, and only includes cities that are monitored by the National Weather Service.)

5. Fargo, North Dakota

Starting off the list is the frozen city of Fargo, North Dakota, made famous by the 1996 movie of the same name. Fargo is known to be cold and this winter has been no different, with an average low temperature of -2°F and an average high of 15°F. The overall average temperature for January comes in at a respectable 6°F, which nabs Fargo the fifth place spot.  The lowest temperature on record is -39°F.

4. Grand Forks, North Dakota

Less than 100 miles north of Fargo lies Grand Forks, ND, which takes fourth place on our list this year. The average low in January was -8°F and the average high was 12°F, while the overall average was a chilly 2°F. Grand Forks’ lowest temperature on record is -43°F.

3. International Falls, Minnesota

Despite some seriously cold nights in late January (reaching -46°F at one point!), International Falls, Minnesota, has experienced a fairly balanced winter, with an average low of -11°F and an average high of 11°F in January. This puts the city at a nice and even 0°F overall. 

2. Fairbanks, Alaska

It should come as no surprise that some of America’s coldest cities are located in its northernmost state, Alaska. In Fairbanks, the average low temperature was a nose hair–freezing -16°F (January), with an average high of 3°F. Thanks to some super-cold days and nights, the average temperature in January was only -7°F.  For those interested in records, the lowest temperature on record is -66°F.

1. Barrow, Alaska

If you want consistent winter cold, move to Barrow, Alaska. Barrow, situated at the very northern tip of the state, takes first place on our Coldest Cities list so far this winter. The average low temperature was -14°F, which is actually two degrees higher than that of Fairbanks. However, where Barrow “shines” is with its average high temperature of just -3°F! This gave Barrow an average of -8°F in January—just low enough to take the win.

See the full list of average temperatures from January 2019 here, or see even more temperature and precipitation data here, courtesy of the National Weather Service. 

Other Cold Cities to Watch

To add interest, let’s highlight a few other wintry U.S. cities. If you’re planning any winter vacations, keep an eye on the weather in these places!

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Nor’easter storms translate to heavy rainfall, snow, and freezing temperatures. Thanks to the wicked nor’easters, Boston has experienced some of the top blizzards in the past century.

Chicago, Illinois

  • The “Windy City” (which isn’t actually that windy) has one of the coldest average temperatures and some of the heaviest snowfalls. Many of the worst storms in history have hit Chicago.

Cleveland, Ohio

  • Due to its location near Lake Erie, Cleveland gets hit hard by lake-effect snow, winds, and subzero temperatures.

Detroit, Michigan

  • With over 40 inches of snow every winter, on average, Detroit also ranks as one of the coldest U.S. cities.

Indianapolis, IN and Columbus, OH

  • Both midwestern cities have many similarities, including the low normal daily mean temperatures in winter months, many frigid days, and fierce winds.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Not only does this city rank high on snowfall and have low average winter temperatures, but it’s also below freezing on your average winter day.

Share Your Thoughts

What are the coldest cities you’ve ever been to? Tell us in the comments below!