The United States has a variety of climates thanks to its large size spanning over different latitudes. The states experience a wide range of climates, including a tropical climate in Florida, a subarctic climate in Alaska, a semi-arid desert climate in Arizona, and an alpine climate in the mountain states. The United States experiences about 26 different Köppen climate types. If you know anything about geography, you know that the farther away from the equator an area lies, the colder it is. Countries, states, and cities that are closer to the equator have warmer climates.
In the United States, the northern states are farther from the equator and thus have colder temperatures.
The Ten Coldest U.S. States
Alaska is the coldest state in the U.S. Alaska's average temperature is 28.1°F (-2.7°C) and can go as low as -30°F (-34°C) during the winter months. The Fairbanks area experiences some of the hottest and coldest temperatures in the state, with highs of 90°F in the summer and lows around -50°F.
North Dakota is the second-coldest state in the U.S. The average temperature in North Dakota is 41.1°F (5°C). In the winter, the average temperatures are around 24°F (-4.4°C), perfect for winter activities such as snowmobiling, cross country skiing, ice skating, and ice hockey. The coldest month in North Dakota is January, where temperatures range from 2°F (-16.7°C) in the north and 17°F (-8.3°C) in the south.
Minnesota is the third-coldest state in the U.S. Located in the Upper Midwest region of the United States and touching Lake Superior to its northeast, the state's climate is greatly affected by its latitude and proximity to Lake Superior. January is the coldest month in Minnesota, where temperatures as low as -30°F (-34°C) can be found around the state's northern parts. The average temperature overall in Minnesota is 41.8°F (5.4°C).
Maine is the fourth-coldest state, with an average annual temperature of 41°F (5°C). Winters in Maine have an average low temperature of 12°F (-11°C) and abundant snowfall. The average accumulated snowfall in Maine is 10 to 80 inches (25-203 cm). Caribou, the northeastern-most city in the U.S., saw 157 consecutive days with at least one inch of snow on the ground in 2018.
Wyoming is the fifth-coldest state in the United States, with an average temperature of 42.3°F (5.7°C). The average minimum temperature in the winter range from 0°F to 15°F. In the winter, highlands and mountaintops in Wyoming can experience up to 200 inches of snowfall, and lowlands typically accumulate about 50 inches of snow. Additionally, winds are typically in the range of 30 to 40 mph (48-64 kph), with gusts up to 50 to 60 mph.
The sixth-coldest state in the U.S. is Montana, with an average temperature of 42.6°F (68.6°C). During Montana's coldest month, January, average temperatures are around 0°F (-17°C). The coldest temperature ever recorded in Montana was -70°F (-112°C) on January 20, 1954. The western part of Montana experiences a Pacific coastal climate with much milder winters. In comparison, the eastern part of the state experiences a semi-arid continental climate with much colder winters.
Vermont is the seventh-coldest state in the U.S. Vermont has an average temperature of 43.2°F (6°C). In the winter, Vermont's average temperature is 22°F (-6°C), with average lows of 2°F (-16°C). Summers are generally mild in Vermont, with temperatures ranging from 75°F to 82°F and nights dipping into the 50s. Vermont is also the snowiest state in the U.S., with annual snowfall registering around 89.25 inches.
Wisconsin ties with Idaho for the eighth-coldest state in the United States, with an average temperature of 44°F (6.7°C). Lake Superior and Lake Michigan border parts of the state, contributing to its long, snowy, and freezing winters. Wisconsin's northern and western parts can experience up to 160 inches of snowfall, and the rest of the state can expect to receive about 40 inches in a year.
Idaho ties Wisconsin for the eighth-coldest state in the U.S., with an average temperature of 44.4°F. Idaho's average lows in the winter are between -2°F and 22°F, while Idaho Falls reaches a chilling 16°F. Snowfall in the state is also abundant, with an average of 29" (74cm) falling each year. Summers are the third coolest in the country, remaining mild with an average daily high of 75°F (24°C).
New Hampshire is the tenth-coldest state in the U.S. The average temperature in New Hampshire is 44.2°F (6.8°C). In January, the state's coldest month, temperatures range from -4°F to 15°F. The northern parts of New Hampshire are affected by strong arctic winds from Canada, causing more aggressive cold fronts. In the summer, temperatures are mild and range from 70°F to 85°F.