Worst Winter Weather Cities

Winter Storm 2010

What are the top five coldest cities to live in the Unites States? Here’s our list (updated in 2015), based on NOAA data covering history averages from 1981 to 2010.

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

As you might expect, the five coldest cities are in the northern regions—and many of these cities also boast record snowfall. Are there any surprises here?

1. Fairbanks, Alaska

If you want consistent cold, go to Fairbanks. On average, the minimum monthly temperature is a balmy –16. 9 with a monthly high of 62.3 F. Can you imagine what those minimum temperatures feel like with windchill? The amount of snow is also impressive, as Fairbanks boasts a monthly average of 66.1 inches. 

2. Grand Forks, North Dakota

It doesn’t take a big brain to figure out that some of the coldest cities are near the Canadian border. The coldest city in the contiguous United States is Grand Folks. The minimum monthly temperature is –3.1 F, on average, with the maximum monthly temperature reaching 56. 3.

3. Fargo, North Dakota

Once again, North Dakota makes the list with the famous Fargo of move fame.  The average monthly minimum temperature is only 0.1 F with a high of 59.5 F. (Don’t the highs seem quite warm comparatively?) If you’re a snow lover, how does an average annual snowfall of 42.4 inches sound?

4. Williston, North Dakota

Are we on repeat? Giving Fargo a run for its money, smaller Williston also boasts an average monthly minimum temperature of 0.1 F—with a maximum of 55.8 F. The snow falls and falls at 43.8 inches per year.

5. Duluth, Minnesota

If you’re a snow lover (or snow miser), then Duluth beats out the Dakotas on the white stuff with an incredible average annual snowfall of 81.5 inches per year!  The average minimum temperature is a chilly 1.5 F per month with a maximum of 55.4 F.

Other Cold Cities to Watch

We’d share the rest of the top cities but it gets a little repetitive with Minnesota and the Dakotas dominating the list. One standout is Marquette, Michigan. It’s in the top 10 list and averages more than 144 inches of snow per year. In 2014, 350 inches of snow fell in Marquette.

To add interest, let’s highlight some cities that are not located near Canadian border but are wintry cities familiar to your travels. If you’re planning any winter plane trips, keep an eye on the weather!

Boston, Massachusetts

Nor’easter storms translate to heavy rainfall, snow, and freezing temperatures. 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, this city gets 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 ample snowfall.

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.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Not only does Minneapolis boast a top ranking for snowfall but it’s consistently one of the very coldest of all of our cities.

What are the coldest cities you’ve ever been to? Share your comments below.

Reader Comments

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Coldest Places in America

Stanley, Idaho is one of the most beautiful places in the country but also one of the very coldest. Situated in the Sawtooth Mountains, near Redfish Lake, its population dwindles way down in the winter. Most people in this small town (population 68) walk to work. Commute time is 5 minutes! :) I only visit there in the summer!

I lived both in Indianapolis

I lived both in Indianapolis and Milwaukee. Milwaukee is a far better city for metropolitan 'feel', transportation, and consumer services, but Indianapolis is the far better city in the winter. I think I read Indy has an average daily temp of 40 degrees by late February, and I don't think Milwaukee hits the 40's until well into April! Plus neither Indy or Columbus have "ample snowfall". People writing this don't know what "ample snowfall" is. I've been in Indy for close to 3 years and I've never touched a shovel. If it snows, it's gone in 3 days or so...

coldest town Ive lived in is going to have to be

Cheyenne, Wyoming...snowing up to 9mths of the year and hail the other 3 ...suicide rate is almost as high as wind speed.

Confusing that

I think you are confusing that with Seattle,WA which tends to not really get that much rain but more of low ceiling clouds and constant drizzle and mist. *Mistle*.

At least in Cheyane you can get decent sunny days spread in between stormy periods regardless of temperature which just seeing the sky can make all the mood differences.

Coldest Cities -- Indianapolis Indiana

I think that Indiana cities in the northern part of the state are much colder due to the wind coming off of Lake Michigan. Areas near Chicago have "lake effect" weather. Indianapolis is rarely colder than -10 Fahrenheit.

coldest cities in the United States

Hi Greg, We agree with your statement. The top cities had a population cut-off, so some of those towns are just smaller. Towns in Indiana near Lake Michigan do indeed “enjoy” that lake effect.


coldest us citie

Minot ND I lived there for over 7 years at the AFB and we got wind chills in the negative 50's but were never on the news

coldest cities

So, my hometown, Fairbanks Alaska doesn't count as a city?

coldest cities in the United States

HI Lynda, We’ve updated the list to speak more to minimum temperatures than wild weather. And, yes, Fairbanks is #1!!


I love MARQUETTE MICHIGAN, and other Upper PEN. areas. i would love to move back there, but with disability SSD , I can not afford to relocate.

Fargo. Always colder than

Fargo. Always colder than every city on the list. Except July. In that month its hotter than any city on the list. Belongs at #1 on a "US city worst winter weather" list!

Syracuse, New York. End of

Syracuse, New York.
End of Discussion.

120 Inches of Snow.. in an AVERAGE Year...
200 is the Record...

Toronto or Buffalo doesnt

Toronto or Buffalo doesnt makes it wow...E


Toronto, Ontario, Canada has cold winters but the hot summers cause the average temperature to be moderate. I wonder how the winters in White Horse, Yukon Territory, Canada compare as the average High temperature in White Horse is 20F during the cold season.

Duluth, MN.

Duluth, MN.