11 Coldest American Cities to Avoid this Winter

Published on May 5, 2019
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Depending on where you live winter can come with ferocity for months at a time while rendering everything around you to a slow, cold, standstill. However, winter is made equal in all places. Many parts of the southern United States only get a sprinkling of snow, a few chilly days, and a brisk wind. Parts of the northern United States experience deadly temperature drops and events like ‘Snowpocalypse’. As you can tell, if you aren’t a ‘snowbird’ there are some major cities that you’ll want to avoid this coming winter. Listed below are the 11 of the most bitter and cold cities to avoid this coming winter.

Boston, MA

We’re going to kick off our list of major American metros to avoid this winter with Ben Affleck’s favorite city, and the home of the Red Sox, Boston. Boston has an average Winter (December through February) temperature of just over 31.7 degrees, making for a cold and bitter daily commute. As far as ‘negative’ temperatures go Boston will seem pretty moderate when compared to the rest of this list as it only experiences ‘subfreezing’ temps around 94 times per year. Despite the harsh winters and relatively average summers Boston is still home to over 640,000 people. Boston is also one of the oldest cities in the United States and it is known for its old architecture, rich history, and passionate city inhabitants. Still, if you want to avoid getting cold this Winter then skip the hotel reservations and head down south on the next cheap flight.

 Boston-MA

Boston-MA

Anchorage, AL

You’d figure that a city in Alaska would manage to make it higher up on our list, but that just isn’t the case due to a few different reasons. Alaska itself is a terribly cold state thanks to its geographical location but you were no doubt aware of this. However, Anchorage isn’t quite as bitter cold as you would expect due to its close location to the ocean. Still, Winters in Anchorage are a thing to behold and unless you love snow, love the cold, and love having difficulty traveling around you might want to skip the region. Anchorage is due for around 75 inches of snow every year and the city has a record low temperature of -38 degrees F. That is intensely cold for a city that is called home by more than 300,000 people. Anchorage gets subfreezing temp days around 192 times per year while hitting subzero temps around 21 days per year. There is no way to slice it: unless you love the cold you would want to skip your cheap ticket and hotel reservation this coming winter.

Anchorage, AL

Anchorage, AL

Madison, WI

The further north you head in the United States the deeper you are going to immerse yourself in some pretty unpleasant weather. Madison, Wisconsin is one of the major metros in the state of Wisconsin with a population of over 240,000 people. The city is located amongst four large lakes (Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Kegonsa) and as such you can expect to get a lake effect chill any time that the winds are blowing. From December to February you are lucky to see the thermostat reach 31 degrees and over that same period of time you will likely experience around 38 total inches of snowfall. To put it bluntly: if you don’t like being cold or snowed in then you have no reason to be in Madison when the winter months start to roll around.

 Madison-WI

Madison-WI

Kansas City, KA

While Kansas City doesn’t have the lowest average temperatures across the winter months it may have something much worse: 108 days of subfreezing temperature every single year. The record low in Kansas City was set back in 1989 when city officials read the thermostat at -23 degrees, enough to kill you if you didn’t find your way inside fast enough. It’s pretty crazy to think that the weather can be so cold that your life is on the line if you experience it for too long. Still, Kansas City is home to almost 500,000 people and it is one of the largest cities in the region. The metropolitan area surrounding Kansas City includes up to 2,037,357 people and that’s a ton of people willing to deal with this weather. You are likely to deal with subzero temperatures at least half of a dozen times per year in Kansas City so make sure you have your coats and gloves on hand as frostbite is not something you’ll want to take back on your vacation.

Kansas City, KA

Kansas City, KA

Rochester, NY

New York state is no stranger to adverse weather, cold temps, and people fleeing the borders for greener pastures when the temperature starts to dip. Rochester is one of the bigger cities in the state and it definitely takes the cake when it comes to bitter cold and heavy snowfall. Rochester is due for about 100 inches of snow every year with the majority of that snow being concentrated in December (15 inches), January (18 inches), and February (14 inches). Rochester averages about 27 degrees daily from December to February with a record low of -22 degrees. You’ll see below freezing days around 131 times per year. Rochester has a population just over 210,000 people and it is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, making for some brisk lake effect wind.

Rochester, NY

Rochester, NY

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh is the second largest city in Pennsylvania with a population of over 305,000 people. Pittsburgh experiences bitter cold around 117 times per year when temperatures dip below freezing. If you’ve ever watched a Pittsburgh Steelers NFL game late in the season then you know just how bitter cold it can get. When even the TV broadcasters are wearing multiple jackets you start to understand the severity of the temperature. Pittsburgh has a record low of -22 degrees while below freezing temperatures happen in the realm of 120 times per year. Pittsburgh doesn’t have enough to offer us to make a winter trip worth the effort. No thanks.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

Detroit, MI

Detroit hasn’t been much of a destination city since the place crashed over a decade ago. Still, Detroit is the largest city in all of Michigan and home to nearly 700,000 people. Detroit gets punished every winter by the cold and residents have to get used to nearly 28 degree daily temperatures from December to February. Add to that bitter cold the fact that you’ll see sub freezing days on average of 124 days per year and you have little reason to make a trip here in the cold season. There just isn’t enough to offer to make that brutal cold worth the trip.

Detroit, MI

Detroit, MI

Chicago, IL

Chicago is one of the greatest cities on Earth as well as one of the largest in the United States. Home to more than 2.7 million people, Chicago has risen through the cracks of its harsh climate in order to become a real traveling destination for people. Chicago is the third largest city in the USA and home to a ton of history. Still, you best be ready to get cold if you decide to take a trip to the Windy City in winter. Chicago has an average daily temperature of 26 degrees during the winter and snowfall can be an absolute nightmare. Look up ‘Snowpocalypse’ to get an idea as to how bad things can get in Chicago.

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

Omaha, NE

Omaha is the largest city in all of Nebraska and it is home to 434,353 people as of the 2013 census. Omaha makes our list thanks to the daily average temperature of 25 degrees throughout winter and the fact that you’ll see temperatures dip below zero around 12 times per year. Nebraska faces brutal winters thanks to heavy snowfall and protracted sub freezing days. If you can find a way around visiting Omaha in the winter then you would be better served doing so.

Omaha, NE

Omaha, NE

Minneapolis, MN

Minnesota doesn’t make a ton of Top 11 lists, and certainly not twice, for anything fun. But here we are with our second city in Minnesota cracking the Top 5 coldest, most punishing, United States metros in the winter. Minnesota has a daily average of 19 degrees during winter with a record low of -41 degrees set back in 1988. The city experiences sub freezing temperatures on average of 151 days per year which means that you are going to be cold much more often then you are going to be warm. Still, Minneapolis is pleasant in the summer but that weather is far too short lived to make a visit worth it for us.

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Grand Forks, ND

Welcome to Grand Forks, North Dakota — the coldest metro on our list. Grand Forks is the third biggest city in North Dakota and it is well known for its heavy snowfall, protracted winters, and bitter cold days. During winter the average temperature on a daily basis is just 5 degrees. Winter is long, harsh, and hard to get through if you aren’t used to it. High pressured Arctic systems blow through every winter thus making the city hard to tolerate unless you have a fireplace and the wherewithal to stay put.

Grand Forks, ND

Grand Forks, ND

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