Think it’s cold outside? Could it get colder? Let’s just say it’s possible.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in South Dakota was a cool -58 degrees Fahrenheit on February 17, 1936 in McIntosh. In Minnesota, the mercury plummeted to -60 degrees Fahrenheit on February 2, 1996 in Tower. Parshall, North Dakota shares that record low, but it goes all the way back to February 15, 1936.
The coldest recorded temperature in any of the 50 states belongs to Alaska. On January 23, 1971, Prospect Creek in central Alaska north of Fairbanks, logged a low of -80 degrees – an astonishing number when you consider the lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °Centigrade or −128.6 °Fahrenheit at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica on July 21, 1983. The coldest temperature recorded in the contiguous 48 states is 70 degrees below zero. Montanans measured that at Rogers Pass on January 20, 1954.
Only one state has never seen the thermometer dip below zero – Hawaii. (You might have guessed.) Hawaii’s lowest temperature checks in at a balmy 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
The United States National Climatic Data Center compiled this list of the coldest temperatures recorded in each of our 50 states:
Alabama: −27 °F, Jan. 30, 1966, New Market
Alaska: −80 °F, Jan. 23, 1971, Prospect Creek
Arizona: −40 °F, Jan. 7, 1971, McNary
Arkansas: −29 °F, Feb. 13, 1905, Gravette
California: −45 °F, Jan. 20, 1937, Boca
Colorado: −61 °F, Feb. 1, 1985, Maybell
Connecticut: −37 °F, Feb. 16, 1943, Norfolk
Delaware: −17 °F, Jan. 17, 1893, Millsboro
District of Columbia: −15 °F, Feb. 11, 1899, Washington
Florida: −2 °F, Feb. 13, 1899, Tallahassee
Georgia: −17 °F, Jan. 27, 1940, Chatsworth
Hawaii: 15 °F, Jan. 5, 1975, Mauna Kea Observatories
Idaho: −60 °F, Jan. 18, 1943, Island Park
Illinois: −36 °F, Jan. 5, 1999, Congerville
Indiana: −36 °F, Jan. 19, 1994, New Whiteland
Iowa: −47 °F, Feb. 3, 1996, Elkader
Kansas: −40 °F, Feb. 13, 1905, Lebanon
Kentucky: −37 °F, Jan. 19, 1994, Shelbyville
Louisiana: −16 °F, Feb. 13, 1899, Minden
Maine: −50 °F, Jan. 16, 2009, Clayton Lake
Maryland: −40 °F, Jan. 13, 1912, Oakland
Massachusetts: −40 °F, Jan. 22, 1984, Chester
Michigan: −51 °F, Feb. 9, 1934, Vanderbilt
Minnesota: −60 °F, Feb. 2, 1996, Tower
Mississippi: −19 °F, Jan. 30, 1966, Corinth
Missouri: −40 °F, Feb. 13, 1905, Warsaw
Montana: −70 °F, Jan. 20, 1954, Lincoln (Rogers Pass)
Nebraska: −47 °F, Dec. 22, 1989, Oshkosh
Nevada: −50 °F, Jan. 8, 1937, San Jacinto
New Hampshire: −47 °F, Jan. 22, 1885, Randolph
New Jersey: −34 °F, Jan. 5, 1904, River Vale
New Mexico: −50 °F, Feb. 1, 1951, Gavilan
New York: −52 °F, Feb. 18, 1979, Old Forge
North Carolina, −34 °F, Jan. 21, 1985, Burnsville
North Dakota, −60 °F, Feb. 15, 1936, Parshall
Ohio, −39 °F, Feb. 10, 1899, Milligan
Oklahoma, −31 °F, Feb. 10, 2011, Nowata
Oregon, −54 °F, Feb. 10, 1933, Seneca
Pennsylvania, −42 °F, Jan. 5, 1904, Smethport
Rhode Island, −28 °F, Jan. 17, 1942, Richmond
South Carolina, −22 °F, Jan. 21, 1985, Landrum
South Dakota, −58 °F, Feb. 17, 1936, McIntosh
Tennessee, −32 °F, Dec. 30, 1917, Mountain City
Texas, −23 °F, Feb. 8, 1933, Seminole
Utah, −50 °F, Jan. 5, 1913, Strawberry Tunnel
Vermont, −50 °F, Dec. 30, 1933, Bloomfield
Virginia, −30 °F, Jan. 22, 1985, Pembroke
Washington, −48 °F, Dec. 30, 1968, Mazama
West Virginia, −37 °F, Dec. 30, 1917, Lewisburg
Wisconsin, −55 °F, Feb. 4, 1996, Couderay
Wyoming, −63 °F, Feb. 9, 1933, Moran
The windchill temperature is how cold people and animals feel when outside. Windchill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by wind and cold. As the wind increases, it draws heat from the body, driving down skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature. Therefore, the wind makes it FEEL much colder. If the temperature is 0°F and the wind is blowing at 15 mph, the windchill is -19°F. At this windchill temperature, exposed skin can freeze in 30 minutes.
The best way to avoid hypothermia and frostbite is to stay warm and dry indoors and outdoors. When you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Trapped air between the layers will insulate you. Remove layers to avoid sweating and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded. Wear a hat because much of your body heat can be lost from your head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Try to stay dry and out of the wind.
Yes, windchill applies only to people and animals. The only effect windchill has on inanimate objects, such as car radiators and water pipes, is to more quickly cool the object to the current air temperature. The object will NOT cool below the actual air temperature. For example, if the temperature outside is -5°F and the windchill temperature is -31°F, then your car’s radiator will not drop lower than -5°F.R
Hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls below 95°F. Determine your temperature with a thermometer.
Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and exhaustion.
Get medical attention immediately. If you can’t get help quickly, begin warming the body SLOWLY. Warm the body core first, NOT the extremities. Warming extremities first drives the cold blood to the heart and can cause the body temperature to drop further–which may lead to heart failure.
If you are helping someone else with hypothermia, get the person into dry clothing and wrap in a warm blanket. Be sure to cover the head and neck.
Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any HOT beverage or food. WARM broth and food is better.
About 20% of cold related deaths occur in the home. Young children under the age of two and the elderly (those more than 65 years old), are most susceptible to hypothermia.
Hypothermia can set in over a period of time. Keep the thermostat above 69°F, wear warm clothing, eat food for warmth, and drink plenty of water or fluids other than alcohol and caffeine to keep hydrated.
Avoid alcohol because it will LOWER your body temperature.
Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes.
Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin
Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.
Hypothermia is an unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.
Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness
Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.