Coldest City in the United States

For coldest weather, Minneapolis tops the list of America's 51 largest urban centers. The metropolitan region, which also takes in St Paul, Minnesota, has the most days a year of below–zero weather and the lowest average annual temperature. The next coldest city, Milwaukee, lags a long ways behind Minneapolis on all measures.

The only city to surpass Minneapolis on a cold metric is Denver, which averages nine more days a year that don't heat up to above freezing. But overall, Denver is considerably warmer, with far fewer days of extreme cold, and a much higher mean temperature.

These ratings listed below of coldest cities use long-term temperature averages, based on weather data collected from 1991 to 2020 for the US National Centers for Environmental Information. 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.

Lowest Temperatures

Most American cities can expect to never reach zero degrees Fahrenheit. For seven major cities weather that cold is uncommon, showing up on average just once or twice a year. But for several cities, severe cold is a fact of life for more than a few days a year. Minneapolis stands out for its frequency of exceptionally frigid nights, as it is the only major city to experience more than ten nights a year of negative temperatures.

These are the large US cities where the temperature usually drops to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 °Celsius) or below each year. These cities are also the only ones to average four or more days a year below 11 °F.

Number of days per year with minimum temperature of 0 or 10 °F or below
City 0 °F
-18 °C
10 °F
-12 °C
Minneapolis, Minnesota 22 46
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 7 22
Denver, Colorado 5 19
Buffalo, New York 4 18
Chicago, Illinois 4 16
Detroit, Michigan 4 16
Kansas City, Missouri 4 15
Rochester, New York 4 19
Cincinnati, Ohio 3 10
Cleveland, Ohio 3 13
Hartford, Connecticut 3 15
Indianapolis, Indiana 3 13
Columbus, Ohio 2 10
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2 12
Boston, Massachusetts 1 7
Louisville, Kentucky 1 4
Providence, Rhode Island 1 8
Salt Lake City, Utah 1 6
St. Louis, Missouri 1 7

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.

Most Freezing Days

Most of the cities that do go below zero often have days when the temperature stays in freezing territory for the entire day. These 16 American cities have 100 or more days a year when their temperature doesn't warm up above 32 °F.

Average number of days per year when the maximum temperature is 32 °F or less
City 32 °F
0 °C
Denver, Colorado 156
Minneapolis, Minnesota 147
Rochester, New York 129
Hartford, Connecticut 126
Buffalo, New York 124
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 123
Detroit, Michigan 120
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 114
Salt Lake City, Utah 112
Cleveland, Ohio 111
Providence, Rhode Island 109
Chicago, Illinois 108
Kansas City, Missouri 107
Indianapolis, Indiana 106
Columbus, Ohio 103
Cincinnati, Ohio 100

Coolest Weather

Plenty of cold days and nights adds up to a low annual average temperature. For these dozen large US cities, the daily mean temperature, averaged for the year, is less than 53 °F.

US cities with the lowest daily mean temperature
City Mean °F Mean °C
Minneapolis, Minnesota 46.9 8.3
Buffalo, New York 48.9 9.4
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 49.4 9.6
Rochester, New York 49.5 9.7
Detroit, Michigan 50.6 10.3
Hartford, Connecticut 51.0 10.6
Denver, Colorado 51.4 10.8
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 51.8 11.0
Boston, Massachusetts 51.9 11.1
Providence, Rhode Island 52.1 11.2
Cleveland, Ohio 52.4 11.3
Chicago, Illinois 52.5 11.4
Reference

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

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