The coldest cities in the nation

Near Fairbanks, Alaska, where the average monthly minimum temperature is about 17 below zero, and where average annual snowfall is about 5.5 feet.
Near Fairbanks, Alaska, where the average monthly minimum temperature is about 17 below zero, and where average annual snowfall is about 5.5 feet.

Winter is nearly at an end, and for many people, spring can't come soon enough. Cities as far south as Washington, D.C., have seen subzero temperatures while others have been ravaged by snow.

But many places in the United States experience extreme cold virtually every year. Fairbanks, Alaska, for example, averaged Fahrenheit temperatures of nearly 17 degrees below zero between 1981 and 2010.

And severe cold is not confined to Alaska. In fact, almost all of the coldest cities in the United States are located in the lower 48 states.

None of these cities are strangers to snow, with many of them historically receiving more than four feet. Marquette, Mich., one of the coldest cities, has historically averaged more than 12 feet of snow. In 2014, Marquette got nearly 350 inches of snow.

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Even in the summer months, most of these cities do not get very hot. Average monthly maximum temperatures in most of these cities are below 60 degrees.

To determine the coldest cities, 24/7 Wall St. used data on the minimum monthly temperature between 1981 and 2010 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2012 “Comparative Climatic Data” report. The cities listed have medium to large populations and are near weather stations classified as Local Climatological Data stations. Maximum monthly temperature and average annual snowfall come from the same NOAA report. We also used population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey to ensure that each city list has at least 10,000 people.

The Fourth Street Elevator in Dubuque. SD Dirk, Flickr.
The Fourth Street Elevator in Dubuque. SD Dirk, Flickr.

25. Dubuque, Iowa
Average monthly minimum temperature: 11.2 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 62.1 F
Population: 57,826
Average annual snowfall: 43.7 in.

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North Platte. The Golden Spike Tower cast a long shadow across the Bailey Yards in mid-winter: ll price, Flickr.
North Platte. The Golden Spike Tower cast a long shadow across the Bailey Yards in mid-winter: ll price, Flickr.

24. North Platte, Nebraska
Average monthly minimum temperature: 11.1 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 60.4 F
Population: 24,609
Average annual snowfall: 30.7 in.

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Madison from 5,000 feet, with a frozen Lake Mendota. Alan Wolf, Flickr.
Madison from 5,000 feet, with a frozen Lake Mendota. Alan Wolf, Flickr.

23. Madison, Wisconsin
Average monthly minimum temperature: 11.1 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 61.0 F
Population: 237,395
Average annual snowfall: 46.0 in.

Old downtown Anchorage, photographed by Wonderlane, Flickr.
Old downtown Anchorage, photographed by Wonderlane, Flickr.

22. Anchorage, Alaska
Average monthly minimum temperature: 11.1 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 52.2 F
Population: 295,237
Average annual snowfall: 72.8 in.

Sheridan. T. Novotny, Flickr.
Sheridan. T. Novotny, Flickr.

21. Sheridan, Wyoming
Average monthly minimum temperature: 10.6 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 53.0 F
Population: 17,584
Average annual snowfall: 71.4 in.

Sewalls Falls Bridge in Concord, built 1915. Bruce Denis, Flickr.
Sewalls Falls Bridge in Concord, built 1915. Bruce Denis, Flickr.

20. Concord, New Hampshire
Average monthly minimum temperature: 10.4 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 57.7 F
Population: 42,590
Average annual snowfall: 65.9 in.

Snow Alley, Burlington. Scott McCracken, Flickr.
Snow Alley, Burlington. Scott McCracken, Flickr.

19. Burlington, Vermont
Average monthly minimum temperature: 10.2 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 60.3 F
Population: 42,331
Average annual snowfall: 80.9 in.

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Sioux City. JD Gordon, Flickr.
Sioux City. JD Gordon, Flickr.

18. Sioux City, Iowa
Average monthly minimum temperature: 10.2 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 63.2 F
Population: 82,602
Average annual snowfall: 33.2 in.

Waterloo. Bob Burleigh, Flickr.
Waterloo. Bob Burleigh, Flickr.

17. Waterloo, Iowa
Average monthly minimum temperature: 9.5 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 62.8 F
Population: 68,327
Average annual snowfall: 33.5 in.

Green Bay as photographed by an International Space Station crew member. NASA, Flickr.
Green Bay as photographed by an International Space Station crew member. NASA, Flickr.

16. Green Bay, Wisconsin
Average monthly minimum temperature: 9.0 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 58.4 F
Population: 104,393
Average annual snowfall: 49.9 in.

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La Crosse from Grandad Bluff. Scott Vonderohe, Flickr.
La Crosse from Grandad Bluff. Scott Vonderohe, Flickr.

15. La Crosse, Wisconsin
Average monthly minimum temperature: 8.9 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 63.2 F
Population: 51,421
Average annual snowfall: 44.2 in.

Insignificant, Rochester. Brian Dewey, Flickr.
Insignificant, Rochester. Brian Dewey, Flickr.

14. Rochester, Minnesota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 7.7 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 61.3 F
Population: 108,179
Average annual snowfall: 49.6 in.

Smoke From Paper Mill, Sault Ste. Marie, by Billy Wilson, Flickr.
Smoke From Paper Mill, Sault Ste. Marie, by Billy Wilson, Flickr.

13. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Average monthly minimum temperature: 7.6 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 54.5 F
Population: 14,171
Average annual snowfall: 116.7 in.

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Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, by ulianne, Flickr. (She says my j key doesn't work.)
Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, by ulianne, Flickr. (She says my j key doesn't work.)

12. Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 7.5 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 64.1 F
Population: 677,914
Average annual snowfall: 50.4 in.

Winter Wonderland in Falls Park, Sioux Falls, by zman z28, Flickr.
Winter Wonderland in Falls Park, Sioux Falls, by zman z28, Flickr.

11. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 6.9 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 61.9 F
Population: 157,675
Average annual snowfall: 41.6 in.

After the Storm, Huron, South Dakota. Greg Ninke, Flickr.
After the Storm, Huron, South Dakota. Greg Ninke, Flickr.

10. Huron, South Dakota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 6.6 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 61.4 F
Population: 12,782
Average annual snowfall: 41.2 in.

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Tourist Park in Marquette. Chad Johnson, Flickr.
Tourist Park in Marquette. Chad Johnson, Flickr.

9. Marquette, Michigan
Average monthly minimum temperature: 5.2 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 54.6 F
Population: 21,399
Average annual snowfall: 149.1 in.

Flooding in Bismarck, March 2009. Photo by Sgt. Jonathan Haugen, North Dakota National Guard, Flickr.
Flooding in Bismarck, March 2009. Photo by Sgt. Jonathan Haugen, North Dakota National Guard, Flickr.

8. Bismarck, North Dakota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 2.2 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 57.4 F
Population: 63,353
Average annual snowfall: 44.9 in.

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A frost field in St. Cloud. Sharon Mollerus, Flickr.
A frost field in St. Cloud. Sharon Mollerus, Flickr.

7. St. Cloud, Minnesota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 1.8 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 58.4 F
Population: 65,996
Average annual snowfall: 44.9 in.

Don't Crowd the Plow, Aberdeen. Geof Wilson, Flickr.
Don't Crowd the Plow, Aberdeen. Geof Wilson, Flickr.

6. Aberdeen, South Dakota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 1.5 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 59.0 F
Population: 26,506
Average annual snowfall: 37.8 in.

Duluth on ice. Sharon Mollerus, Flickr.
Duluth on ice. Sharon Mollerus, Flickr.

5. Duluth, Minnesota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 1.5 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 55.4 F
Population: 86,234
Average annual snowfall: 81.5 in.

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Pump, Williston. Lindsey Gira, Flickr.
Pump, Williston. Lindsey Gira, Flickr.

4. Williston, North Dakota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 0.1 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 55.8 F
Population: 16,917
Average annual snowfall: 43.8 in.

Even when it is cold, there is still plenty to do in Fargo-Moorhead! the local visitors bureau promises.
Even when it is cold, there is still plenty to do in Fargo-Moorhead! the local visitors bureau promises.

3. Fargo, North Dakota
Average monthly minimum temperature: 0.1 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 59.5 F
Population: 108,371
Average annual snowfall: 42.4 in.

On My Way Home, Grand Forks. Wes Peck, Flickr.
On My Way Home, Grand Forks. Wes Peck, Flickr.

2. Grand Forks, North Dakota
Average monthly minimum temperature: -3.1 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 56.3 F
Population: 53,315
Average annual snowfall: Data unavailable

Lacey Street: 40 below zero in downtown Fairbanks. Robert Drozda, Flickr.
Lacey Street: 40 below zero in downtown Fairbanks. Robert Drozda, Flickr.

1. Fairbanks, Alaska
Average monthly minimum temperature: -16.9 F
Average monthly maximum temperature: 52.3 F
Population: 31,891
Average annual snowfall: 66.1 in.

 

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