We mapped the one hundred hottest and coldest extreme temperatures by state. That’s 50 scorchingly high temperatures that will make your face sweat just thinking about them and 50 goosebump-inducingly low temperatures that will have you shivering in your seat.
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Do you think your city has the bragging rights when it comes to extremely hot or cold weather in your state? Check out the map above to see if your city makes the cut, or read on for the extremes of the extremes, same state differences, and other insights into the highest and lowest temperature per state.
Although we mapped over 100 of the most extreme temperatures the United States has ever seen, there are still the extremes of the extremes. Below is a list of the top five hottest temperatures ever recorded in the U.S. Feel free to crack your morning eggs on the sidewalk and watch as they fry in these five sizzling cities:
- Furnace Creek, California 134 °F
- Lake Havasu City, Arizona 128 °F
- Laughlin, Nevada 125 °F
- Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, New Mexico 122 °F
- Steele, North Dakota 121 °F
The five hottest temperatures ever recorded in the United States all come in at over 120 °F. The number one hottest temperature occurred in Furnace Creek, California when the city reached a scorching 134 °F (57 °C) way back on July 10th, 1913. In fact, all of the top five hottest temperatures occurred during the 20th century. The number two slot for hottest temperature in the U.S. goes to Lake Havasu City in Arizona. Lake Havasu City residents sure did sweat on June 29th, 1994 when the temperature reached a high of 128 °F (53 °C). On that same day, in the same year, Laughlin, Nevada also broke records with a temperature measuring in at 125 °F (52 °C.) June 1994 can be classified as a record-breaking month, as just two days prior to Lake Havasu City and Laughlin’s heatwaves, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico reached 122 °F. The last of the top five hottest temperatures was July 6, 1936, when Steele, North Dakota’s temperatures soared to 121 °F.
While all of the extremely low temperatures we mapped are enough to make you want to bundle up, the five extremes of the extremes range from -61 °F to -80 °F, enough to make throw your cares about the electric bill out the window and crank the heater.
- Prospect Creek, Alaska -80 °F
- Lincoln, Montana -70 °F
- Peter Sinks, Utah -69 °F
- Moran, Wyoming -63 °F
- Maybell, Colorado -61 °F
The coldest temperature ever recorded in the United States occurred in Prospect Creek, Alaska. On January 23, 1971, Prospect Creek hit a record-breaking low of -80 °F (-62 °C). Prospect Creek’s record-breaking extreme temperature is at least 10 degrees colder than the rest of the top five most extreme low temperatures on our list. On January 20, 1954, in Lincoln, Montana the temperature dropped to -70 °F. The third and the fifth coldest temperature on our list both occurred on the same day, in the same year. On February 1st, 1985, both Peter Sinks, Utah and Maybell, Colorado blew the records out of the water with freezing temperatures in the -60s. Peter Sinks, Utah hit -69 °F on this monumental day, and Maybell, Colorado came in at freezing -61 °F. In between the two February 1sters sits Moran, Wyoming, whose extreme cold temperature also took place in February. On February 9, 1933 residents and visitors of Moran had to endure temperatures hitting a low of -63 °F.
Because we mapped the data, we can more easily see trends we may not have seen otherwise. For example, when looking at the map, we can see that one side of the country stands out as home to the most extreme of the extreme temperatures.
By sorting the map by the Extreme Temperature (°F) type and only selecting the most extreme ranges on the map, “134-116” for highs and both “-69 – -80” and “-50 – -63” for lows, the map shows us that the West Coast is home to the most extreme temps.
The 10 cities that make up the top 10 most extreme temperatures are mostly located in the Mountain States of the West. Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming all constitute the western geographical region in the U.S. known as the Mountain States. These states are also home to seven of the top 10 cities with the most extreme temperatures ever recorded.
The Mountain States are home to the highest mountain peaks in the United States, the Rocky Mountains, hence the reason for the name Mountain States. In addition to mountains, the Mountain States are also home to all of the major deserts in North America. The Mountain States’ geographical makeup combined with the fact that the eight mountain states (Idaho is the eighth not represented on our top 10 extreme temperatures list) have the highest mean elevation of all 50 U.S. states may be why they are home to seven out of 10 of the most extreme temperatures.
The three other states with cities that make up the top 10 most extreme temperatures are Alaska, California, and North Dakota. Funnily enough, those three states combined with the Mountain States make up the entirety of the West. The West is home to the all of the top 10 most extreme temperatures.
If you thought a state with a sweltering high temperature in the 100’s wouldn’t be able to sink below parka-wearing temperatures, you would be wrong. In fact, all of the eight cities in the four states below have seen temperature differences of over 180 degrees.
|City||State||Extreme Temperature (°F)||Type||Date||Difference|
|Fort Yukon||Alaska||100||High||June 27, 1915||180|
|Prospect Creek||Alaska||-80||Low||January 23, 1971||180|
|Steele||North Dakota||121||High||July 6, 1936||181|
|Parshall||North Dakota||-60||Low||February 15, 1936||181|
|Saint George||Utah||117||High||July 5, 1985||186|
|Peter Sinks||Utah||-69||Low||February 1, 1985||186|
|Medicine Lake||Montana||117||High||July 5, 1937||187|
|Lincoln||Montana||-70||Low||January 20, 1954||187|
Something to note is that all of the largest temperature differences also hail from western states.
While the West can claim the extremes of the extreme temperatures and the largest temperature differences, the East can brag about their long-standing records. The top five longest-standing extreme temperature records are all frigidly low temperatures that occurred in the late 1800s in Eastern states. These old records range from -15 to -47 °F.
The longest standing record took place in Randolph, New Hampshire on January 22nd, 1885. There has not been a lower temperature in New Hampshire since Randolph hit -47 °F. The next longest standing record goes Millsboro, Delaware back on January 17th, 1893. Since the city hit -17 °F that day, no other city in Delaware has reached a lower temperature. The third longest standing record occurred in Milligan, Ohio. The city is home to the lowest temperature the state of Ohio has ever seen at -39 °F which took place on February 10, 1899. The coldest temperature Washington D.C. has ever experienced happened way back on February 11, 1899. On this day, the U.S.’s capital hit a low of -15 °F, and nothing has surpassed it since. Minden, Louisiana hit a low of -16 °F on February 13, 1899, and the city has never experienced anything colder since. While Louisiana is more of a south-eastern state, all of the longest standing record holders have ties to the East.
If your city didn’t quite make this list, don’t sweat it. You can map more than two of your own state’s extreme temperatures with BatchGeo in seconds. And if you’re curious to know more about your state, be sure to check out Flashcard Maps: Learn US State Capitals, Flowers, and Birds.