Coldest States

In the United States, the further North one travels, the colder it usually is. This is to be expected as the further one moves away from the thermal equator, a belt which encircles earth and is defined by a set of locations highest the mean annual temperatures, the colder it tends to get. However, this isn’t the case during the summer months of the year. Even the states that experience cold winters and heavy snowfall are near to being as warm as — though slightly cooler than — states that don’t have a winter season that includes below freezing temperatures and moderate to heavy snowfall.

Furthermore, the United States does not only experience extremes in cold and hot weather but also in other forms of extreme weather, like tornadoes and hurricanes. Tornadoes, for instance, occur largely through what is known in the U.S. as the “Tornado Alley” that encompasses states such as northern Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. Hurricanes, on the other hand, largely affect the east coast of the United States due to this part of the nation being the last stop on “Hurricane Alleys” trajectory, which also affects other nations too, a large part of them being in the Caribbean. Hence, south eastern states of the U.S., like Florida, experiencing the most hurricanes throughout the whole nation.

Though, due to the sheer size of the United States, which is larger than the whole of continental Europe, it is not unusual for the nation to experience such diversity in temperature as well as general weather patterns – including hurricanes, tornadoes, sub-zero temperatures. The number of differences in weather patterns and temperatures is to be expected and also makes the U.S. relatively unique in that regard compared to other nations as its weather resembles that of a continental differences but is rather enclosed in one country.

US Temperatures

During winter, it is normal for states in the Midwest and the Northeast to experience average temperatures far below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, as well as snowfall throughout the winter season. Lakes freeze and the many rivers freeze over, presenting the perfect opportunity for ice skating and ice fishing.

In the continental United States, North and South Dakota often have the lowest temperatures, which regularly plummet far below zero degrees Fahrenheit. However, one U.S. state, Alaska, is located partially within the Arctic Circle, which is quite cold. However, Alaska does have temperate summers depending on where you are within the state.

The coldest states in the U.S. are in contrast to the warmest states on average within the U.S, such as Hawaii and Florida. However, again, if one traveled throughout the United States in summertime, the differences wouldn’t be extremely pronounced. It’s only during winter that the coldest states in the U.S. truly reveal themselves.

Top 10 Coldest States in the US

The coldest states in the U.S. have a trend of being all towards the northern hemisphere of the United States. One of the states, Colorado, which is the furthest north out of all the top ten states, is one of the coldest due to the state being the most mountainous of the whole country. Based on the minimum recorded temperature by state, the coldest states in the U.S. are as follows:

Alaska : -80
Montana : -70
Wyoming : -66
Colorado : -61
Idaho : -60
Minnesota : -60
North Dakota : -60
South Dakota : -58
Wisconsin : -55
Oregon : -54

To learn more about the coldest states, scroll the charts.

Minimum Recorded Temperature by State

Alabama - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-27

#42 in the US

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1.2

#37 in the US

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112

#31 in the US

­­The Gulf of Mexico border state, Alabama, is one of the least cold states in the U.S. The state offers what they call the Alabama Weatherization Assistance Program, a government funded program designed to help the state's residents have more energy efficient homes through installing insulation, among other things.

Alaska - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-80

#1 in the US

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100

#49 in the US

Arizona - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-40

#24 in the US

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2.8

#20 in the US

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128

#2 in the US

It may seem like a semi-arid state such as Arizona wouldn't need to worry about freezing temperatures. However, the lowest temperature ever recorded there was -40°F, which is quite cold. Arizona offers a Weatherization Assistance Program, which started in 1973 and that specifically targets low-income families.

Arkansas - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-29

#40 in the US

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0.8

#48 in the US

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120

#7 in the US

The southern state of Arkansas is one of the warmer states within the U.S. The state has a law in place that prohibits a consumers’ gas from being turned off during a 24-hour period where the National Weather Service has predicted the temperature will be below 32°F.

California - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-45

#22 in the US

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3

#5 in the US

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134

#1 in the US

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Pacific coast state of California is not one of the coldest states, but it does have the hottest ever recorded temperature in the United States. California has an assistance program that targets qualifying low-income residents, incentivizing them to reduce home energy costs by doing things like insulating their homes, and thus preventing cold homes when the temperature drops.

Colorado - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-61

#4 in the US

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2.9

#21 in the US

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115

#21 in the US

Due to its high elevations in certain parts of the state, Colorado has one of the coldest recorded temperatures in the United States. In 2019, Governor Jared Polis made House Bill 19-1207 a law, which requires people who drive on I-70 between September 1 and May 1 to have 3/16" tread on their tires and use a 4WD or AWD vehicle in most instances, due to in climate seasonal weather conditions.

Connecticut - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-32

#36 in the US

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3.3

#6 in the US

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106

#45 in the US

Although the state of Connecticut does not have one of the coldest recorded temperatures in the United States, it does have procedures in place for when the temperatures become freezing. The protocol in place is intended to give shelter to homeless people and similar vulnerable populations.

Delaware - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-17

#46 in the US

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3.2

#7 in the US

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110

#36 in the US

The Atlantic coastal state of Delaware has one of the warmest low temperatures on record for a state within the U.S. In 2020, the state put in place laws to protect people's pets from prolonged exposure. The law declares, for instance, that a pet dog should be outside no longer than fifteen minutes in extreme heat or cold.

Florida - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-2

#49 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2.1

#22 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

109

#40 in the US

Florida, the only state to border the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, has the second warmest minimum recorded temperature of all time, within the United States. Though the state is quite warm during most of the year, its laws require landlords to provide tenants with heat when it's cold, but not air conditioning when it's warm.

Georgia - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-17

#47 in the US

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1.2

#38 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

112

#32 in the US

A state that borders the Atlantic Ocean in the United States' Southeast, Georgia has one of the top five warmest minimum recorded temperatures in the U.S. Georgia has laws in place that ensure its residents' heat won't be turned off if it is below 32°F, even if they are behind on payments. The neighboring state of Alabama has similar laws in place.

Hawaii - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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12

#51 in the US

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100

#50 in the US

Idaho - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-60

#5 in the US

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2.8

#23 in the US

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118

#13 in the US

The Northwestern state of Idaho has one of the top five minimum recorded temperatures in the United States. On the other hand, it also has one of the maximum recorded temperatures in the United States, so you could say its weather is versatile. Like other U.S. states, Idaho offers home heating and utility assistance for its low-income residents.

Illinois - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-38

#29 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2.1

#24 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

117

#17 in the US

The Midwestern state of Illinois has a relatively average minimum recorded temperature when it is compared to the other states in the U.S. In 2020, the Attorney General of Illinois, Kwame Raoul, reminded residents in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic that their gas and electricity couldn't be shut off during the winter months even if they were behind on payments.

Indiana - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-36

#32 in the US

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2.2

#25 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

116

#20 in the US

The Midwestern state of Indiana has laws that regulate whether or not a resident's electricity or gas can be shut off. However, the laws are not unconditional. For instance, in order for the Winter Shut-off Moratorium to apply, the resident in question has to qualify for Energy Assistance Program funds and actively receive assistance from the EAP.

Iowa - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-47

#20 in the US

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2.5

#26 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

118

#14 in the US

Iowa, a landlocked Midwestern state, has a relatively average minimum recorded temperature. In recent years, the state has not put forward any legislation that directly applies to aiding Iowans in the face of cold weather. However, there have been Climate Change bills that have been proposed.

Kansas - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-40

#25 in the US

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2

#27 in the US

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121

#5 in the US

The state of Kansas has the median minimum recorded temperature in the United States. Each year, Kansas implements the Cold Weather Rule, which is a payment plan for utilities that is undertaken in partnership between the state and the utility company, in which a resident pays their generally higher winter utility bills over the span of twelve months.

Kentucky - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-37

#30 in the US

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1.5

#39 in the US

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114

#25 in the US

The state of Kentucky has a minimum recorded temperature that is less than the median. Kentucky has a plan in place, called the Winter Help Bill, through which the state's residents are temporarily eligible for heating assistance during the winter months.

Louisiana - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-16

#48 in the US

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1.1

#40 in the US

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114

#26 in the US

The Southern Gulf state of Louisiana has one of the warmest minimum recorded temperatures within the United States. In 2021, after a series of bad winter storms, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made disaster assistance payments and supplies available.

Maine - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-50

#13 in the US

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4.2

#1 in the US

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105

#47 in the US

The Atlantic Coastal state of Maine has the greatest temperature deviation from the 20th century average of any state in the U.S. In November 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the state of Maine $42.5 million dollars through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help abate rising energy costs in the state.

Maryland - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-40

#26 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

3.1

#8 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

109

#41 in the US

Maryland has a relatively average minimum recorded temperature in relation to the rest of the states in the United States. In 2022, in response to an increase in the rise of costs for utilities and electricity, the former governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, put forward $29 million dollars in assistance programs that were designed to help weatherize residents' homes for the cold season.

Massachusetts - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-35

#33 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

3.8

#9 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

107

#43 in the US

In November 2022, Massachusetts was awarded $159 million dollars in funding from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), in order to prepare for the coming cold winter. Although the state has one of the lower minimum recorded temperatures in the nation, it still does get quite cold there.

Michigan - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-51

#12 in the US

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3.8

#10 in the US

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112

#33 in the US

The Midwestern state of Michigan has one of the lowest minimum recorded temperatures in the United States, though it is no't quite in the top ten. In the early months of 2022, State Representative Tommy Brann put forward legislation, in House Bills 4784-86, that was intended to protect outdoor pets, like dogs, from enduring prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures.

Minnesota - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-60

#6 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

4.2

#2 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

115

#22 in the US

Minnesota is a Midwestern state that has one of the coldest minimum winter temperatures ever recorded in the United States. The state abides by a Cold Weather Rule due to its predictably extreme winters, which prohibits the state's residents from having their heating utilities turned off between October 1 and April 30.

Mississippi - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-19

#44 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

1.2

#41 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

115

#23 in the US

Of the Southern states that border the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi is one of the warmest. It has one of the highest minimum recorded temperatures in the United States. Although the state does experience cold snaps and snow from time to time, it is infrequent enough that the state's legislature has not created any cold weather laws in recent years.

Missouri - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-40

#27 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

1.8

#42 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

118

#15 in the US

Missouri is a central U.S. state that follows a Cold Weather Rule that utility providers must abide by during the winter season, from November 1 to March 31. Some of the provisions of the rule include the prohibition of utilities related to heating one's home if the temperature is predicted to drop below 32°F during any 24-hour period.

Montana - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-70

#2 in the US

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2.8

#28 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

117

#18 in the US

The Western state of Montana has the coldest minimum recorded temperature within the continental United States. In spite of its bitterly cold winters, it is unclear whether or not the state's legislature recently passed laws to handle the issue of extreme weather.

Nebraska - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-47

#21 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2.7

#29 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

118

#16 in the US

Like many other states in the Northern portion of the U.S, the state of Nebraska employs a Cold Weather Rule from November 1 through March 21. The rule specifies that the two primary energy providers in the state cannot cut off a residents' energy for failing to pay their energy bills during that time without granting an additional thirty days for them to pay their energy bills.

Nevada - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-50

#14 in the US

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3

#11 in the US

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125

#3 in the US

Although the Western state of Nevada has one of the highest maximum recorded temperatures in the United States, it simultaneously has one of the lowest minimum recorded temperatures in the U.S. too. The state recognizes a Consumer Bill of Rights, which grants residents certain utility protections in the advent of extreme weather.

New Hampshire - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-50

#15 in the US

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3.8

#12 in the US

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106

#46 in the US

The state of New Hampshire has a relatively cold minimum recorded temperature when compared to the rest of the United States, but in comparison to the surrounding Northwestern states, a low of —50°F seems to be the norm. In order to protect residents against cold weather, the state has numerous assistance programs in place, like the Gas Assistance Program, to ensure people are safe in extremely cold weather.

New Jersey - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-34

#34 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

3.7

#13 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

110

#37 in the US

The Atlantic coastal state of New Jersey has a higher than average minimum recorded temperature. In 2022, the state received more than $455 million dollars from the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), some of which will be spent as the residents of New Jersey prepare to endure an East coast winter.

New Mexico - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-50

#16 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2.5

#30 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

122

#4 in the US

Similar to Nevada, New Mexico has both a very high maximum recorded temperature and a minimum recorded temperature that is quite low. The Western state has protections in place for low-income residents regarding a heating season moratorium.

New York - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-52

#11 in the US

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3.2

#14 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

108

#42 in the US

New York state has one of the coldest minimum recorded temperatures in the United States. In January of 2022, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand proposed a Bill that would annually invest $40 billion dollars in order to further LIHEAP protections and help impoverished residents through the winter.

North Carolina - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-34

#35 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

1.6

#43 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

110

#38 in the US

The state of North Carolina has a more temperate climate than most states within the United States. However, the winters are still cold. The state has a program in place to help North Carolina residents prepare for winter and save on energy costs.

North Dakota - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-60

#7 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

4.1

#3 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

121

#6 in the US

North Dakota is notorious for its winters, much like the other states in the Northwest United States. It has one of the lowest minimum recorded temperatures in the country. The state's Civil Air Patrol sometimes provides an aerial overview of a parcel of landscape during snow storm rescue operations.

Ohio - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-39

#28 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2.8

#31 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

113

#28 in the US

The Midwestern state of Ohio has a minimum and maximum recorded temperature very near the median temperatures for the entire United States. The state has a handful of programs that are designed to help low-income residents afford their heating bills throughout the winter.

Oklahoma - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-31

#38 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

1.1

#44 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

120

#8 in the US

Located North of the state of Texas, the state of Oklahoma has a minimum recorded temperature that's higher than the median. In 2021, the state experienced record cold temperatures. Senate Bills 1049 and 1050 were proposed in order to help pay an estimated $4.5 billion in additional heating expenses due to the cold.

Oregon - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-54

#10 in the US

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2.7

#32 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

119

#12 in the US

The Pacific coastal state of Oregon has one of the ten lowest minimum temperatures ever recorded in the United States. In 2022, the legislature of Oregon passed Senate Bill 1536, called Emergency Heat Relief for Oregonians. One of the things the bill aims to do is allot $25 million dollars for heating pumps.

Pennsylvania - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-42

#23 in the US

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3.1

#15 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

111

#35 in the US

The Northeastern state of Pennsylvania has a relatively moderate minimum recorded temperature in spite of being located further north than many U.S. states. The state has not passed any cold weather legislation recently, but the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection encourages residents to insulate their homes to conserve energy.

Rhode Island - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-28

#41 in the US

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4

#4 in the US

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104

#48 in the US

Although the tiny Northeastern state of Rhode Island doesn't have a significantly low minimum recorded temperature, it does have one of the largest temperature deviations from the norm in the 20th century. The state's legislature has not recently passed a law aimed at alleviating the ill effects of cold weather.

South Carolina - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-19

#45 in the US

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1.4

#45 in the US

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113

#29 in the US

South Carolina, a Southern state with one of the milder minimum recorded temperatures in the United States, has not recently implemented any cold weather legislation. However, Dominion Energy implemented what it calls a weather normalization adjustment, which is intended to lower heating costs during unusually cold winters.

South Dakota - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-58

#8 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

3.5

#16 in the US

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120

#9 in the US

South Dakota has one of the lowest minimum recorded temperatures in the United States and also has one of the highest temperature deviations from the 20th century average. Though there has not been cold weather legislation recently proposed in the state, there have been spare calls from politicians to address climate change.

Tennessee - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-32

#37 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

1.4

#46 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

113

#30 in the US

The Appalachian state of Tennessee is one of the warmer to more temperate states in the United States. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has dubbed the month of September as National Preparedness Month, which is intended to raise awareness among Tennessee residents regarding the possibility of naturally caused emergencies, such as severe cold weather.

Texas - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-23

#43 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

1.5

#47 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

120

#10 in the US

Texas is one of the least cold states in the United States, though it does get snow from time to time. In 2022, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas made the reliability of its electrical grid more robust by mandating that the necessary equipment must be able to work at the established maximum and minimum anticipated Texas temperatures.

Utah - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-50

#17 in the US

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3.2

#17 in the US

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117

#19 in the US

The minimum recorded temperature is comparatively cold in relation to the other U.S. states. During the winter months after September 1 in Utah, on certain roadways, vehicles under 12,000 lbs. that lack 4-wheel or all-wheel drive capabilities have to use tire chains when driving on certain roads.

Vermont - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-50

#18 in the US

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3.7

#18 in the US

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107

#44 in the US

The Northeastern state of Vermont has a minimum recorded temperature that is slightly below the U.S. median, as well as one of the lowest maximum recorded temperatures of any state in the United States. Each year, the state promotes its Button Up campaign, which gives Vermont residents tips to prepare for the cold winter weather.

Virginia - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-30

#39 in the US

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2.3

#33 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

110

#39 in the US

Among the U.S. states, Virginia's climate is one of the more temperate, and its minimum coldest recorded temperature is relatively unimpressive. In 2020, a state law went into effect that criminalized leaving pets exposed to extreme temperatures.

Washington - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-48

#19 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2.1

#34 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

120

#11 in the US

The Northeasternmost state in the continental U.S., Washington resides abreast Canada to the North and the Pacific Ocean to the West. Although the state's minimum recorded temperature is relatively low, most of the state's recent weather legislation addresses the state's warm weather rather than its cold weather.

West Virginia - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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#31 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2

#35 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

112

#34 in the US

West Virginia, located on the border of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, has a Weatherization Assistance Program that is intended to help low-income residents prepare for winter. There are certain requirements for eligibility, and residents will be helped with insulating their homes and repairing damaged home heating systems, among other things.

Wisconsin - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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-55

#9 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

3.3

#19 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

114

#27 in the US

The Midwestern state of Wisconsin introduced legislation in conjunction with the nearby states of Michigan and Indiana that is aimed at improving the ability of the United States Coast Guard to break ice during the winter on the Great Lakes, in order to increase water commerce.

Wyoming - Minimum Recorded Temperature

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#3 in the US

TEMPERATURE DEVIATION FROM 20TH CENTURY AVERAGEhelp

2.9

#36 in the US

MAXIMUM RECORDED TEMPERATUREhelp

115

#24 in the US

Wyoming has the third minimum recorded temperature on record within the United States. It is illegal to leave pets outdoors in the cold winter within the state. Wyoming also has state recommendations for driving during the winter, including checking your tire pressure, having good windshield wipers, and much more.

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#50 in the US

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#51 in the US