The Coldest Day in Every State

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A devastating cold front, complete with extreme low temperatures, wind, and precipitation, is expected to hit much of the United States this week. The phenomenon, known popularly as a “polar vortex,” will move across the Midwest and Northeast, keeping temperatures in many places well below freezing for an extended period of time — and wind chill levels at life-threatening lows.

In parts of Minnesota, the wind chill factor could reach as low at -65°F. Chicago might break its record low for temperature excluding wind chill, -27°F, set on Jan 20, 1985. But even if temperatures fall below that level, it will likely not come close to Illinois’ all-time low temperature, a staggering -36°F set in Bloomington in 1999.

Based on records from the State Climate Extremes Committee, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the coldest temperature on record in every state. Most state record lows have lasted for decades, in some cases over a century, and as U.S. average temperatures continue to rise, record high temperatures being set are exceeding record low temperatures by a ratio of 2:1. Only two states’ record low temperatures have been set in the 21st century. The vast majority of states’ record lows have stood unbroken for well over 50 years.

In a few cases, records have been tied but remained unbroken. In Massachusetts, the record low temperature of -35°F has been recorded at weather stations within the state three times: first in 1904, then in 1943, and finally 1981. In a few states, the record low was recorded on separate days. In Wisconsin, the state’s record of -55°F was set in Stone Lake on Friday, Feb. 2, 1996, and then in the same place two days later.

To identify the coldest days in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the State Climate Extremes Committee’s (SCEC) records of extreme cold temperatures in every state, then listed the city / location closest to the weather station that recorded the extreme weather event. Data was sourced from the Nautical Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Click here to see the coldest day in every state.