Coldest Cities in the US During Winter

No matter how you measure it, among major cities in the United States it's at the Minneapolis—St Paul region of Minnesota where you'll find the coldest winter weather. The Twin Cities have the most cold days, chilliest nights and overall the lowest average temperatures among the largest urban areas in United States.

Below you'll find rankings for the coldest of cities in the US. The major cities included in these weather rankings represent the 51 metropolitan areas in the United States with the most people, all those with over one million residents in 2010, according to the US Census Bureau.

The ratings of coldest cities use long-term temperature averages for the three winter months, December, January and February, based on weather data collected from 1991 to 2020 for the US National Centers for Environmental Information.

Lowest Overall Temperature

Mean daily temperatures at these 11 US cities are typically below freezing during winter.

US cities with the lowest normal daily mean temperatures in December, January and February
City Mean °F Mean °C
Minneapolis, Minnesota 19.6 -6.9
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 26.9 -2.8
Buffalo, New York 27.8 -2.3
Detroit, Michigan 28.3 -2.0
Rochester, New York 28.5 -1.9
Chicago, Illinois 29.2 -1.6
Hartford, Connecticut 29.8 -1.3
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 31.3 -0.4
Indianapolis, Indiana 31.4 -0.3
Cleveland, Ohio 31.5 -0.3
Kansas City, Missouri 31.9 -0.1

City links take you to more detailed information on temperatures for that location. You can also view a summary of temperature averages for all major US cities and city temperatures in recent years and a complete list of America's 51 largest urban centers.

Coldest Winter Days

The Minneapolis—St Paul region is the only major urban center that normally remains below freezing throughout the day for most of December, January and February. It averages 58 days a winter when the thermometer doesn't climb above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 °Celsius).

It's also the lone large city whose average high temperature during winter is below freezing. The winter high for Minneapolis—St Paul is just 27 °F (-3 °C). That's nearly seven degrees Fahrenheit colder than the next chilliest city, Milwaukee.

These American cities have over 20 days a winter when the temperature doesn't warm up above freezing.

Number of days in winter when the maximum temperature is 32 °F or less
City 32 °F
0 °C
Minneapolis, Minnesota 58
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 43
Buffalo, New York 40
Rochester, New York 38
Detroit, Michigan 37
Chicago, Illinois 35
Cleveland, Ohio 32
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 28
Indianapolis, Indiana 26
Hartford, Connecticut 26
Columbus, Ohio 25
Kansas City, Missouri 23
Boston, Massachusetts 21
Cincinnati, Ohio 21

Chilliest Winter Lows

When it comes to cold winter nights, again the Minneapolis—St Paul metro area out-chills any other large US center. It's the only city that can expect more than ten nights in winter when the thermometer sinks to below zero.

Normally all but three nights a winter at Minneapolis have freezing temperatures. With this metric Denver is close behind, averaging just four winter nights that remain above freezing.

The temperature drops to 0 °F for at least two nights during a typical winter in these major US cities.

Number of days in winter when the temperature drops to 0 or 10 °F or below
City 0 °F
-18 °C
10 °F
-12 °C
Minneapolis, Minnesota 21 40
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 6 20
Denver, Colorado 5 17
Chicago, Illinois 4 16
Rochester, New York 4 16
Kansas City, Missouri 4 14
Hartford, Connecticut 3 13
Detroit, Michigan 3 15
Indianapolis, Indiana 3 13
Buffalo, New York 3 16
Cleveland, Ohio 3 12
Cincinnati, Ohio 3 9
Columbus, Ohio 2 10
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2 12
Reference

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Climate Normals.

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