Temperatures dipped below 10 degrees Fahrenheit across much of the northern United States this week. Still, average temperatures between Jan. 17 and 23, 2021 were consistently higher than historical norms for that period in nearly every part of the country, following the long-term trend of global warming.
It remains to be seen how temperatures this winter, as well as the entire year, will compare to 2020 and the historical norm. With an average temperature in the contiguous U.S. of 54.4 degrees Fahrenheit — 2.4 degrees above the 20th century average — 2020 ranked as the fifth-warmest year in the 126-year record. The five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2012, and no areas in the United States reported below-average annual temperatures in 2020.
At the same, it is important to note that temperatures during winter do not necessarily follow the long-term pattern of annual average temperature. In fact, over the past 15 years, there were as many warmer-than-normal winters as there were colder-than-normal ones, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) winter outlook for 2020-21.
Spanning many climate zones, the United States can experience both extreme hot and cold temperatures. 24/7 Wall St. has determined the coldest town in each state by identifying those places with the lowest average annual temperatures, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Many of the coldest towns are found in more rural areas. Urban areas are filled with concrete and asphalt, which absorb thermal and solar energy at much higher rates than natural landscapes and therefore often have higher temperatures than rural areas. Other factors, like the concentration of industry and automobiles, also help explain why temperatures tend to be higher in cities. Here is the hottest city in each state.
One town may also be colder than another due to several geographic features, including elevation, proximity to bodies of water, and distance from the equator. These factors similarly affect the coldest places on the planet where people live, some of which are in North America.