U.S. Daily Low Temperature Extremes

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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General Comments

Lows are more widely distributed than highs. Of the 4845 records, thirteen states have over 100. The top four states, Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Minnesota, account for only half of the total in contrast to the pattern for highs where the top four states account for 97%. Below are occurrences by month and state, alphabetically and by decreasing record count.

Month AZ CA CO IA ID IL KS MA ME MI MN MT NC ND NE NH NM NV NY OR PA SD TX UT VA VT WA WI WV WY
Jan 0 1 57 2 5 1     38 8 82 67   25 2 16   2 29     3   2   1   1   12
Feb 1 3 38 0 10       46 15 80 53   14   30   1 28         2       5   27
Mar 4 1 10 2 20     1 36 48 81 67   21 3 24 2 3 29 1   2 2 1       9 1 28
Apr 11 23 33 0 21       14 24 39 62   16 6 16 10 9 17 8 1 7   3       6 1 49
May 22 24 56 0 48       6 27 35 58   13 5 20 9 24 11 18 1 3   6       9 2 50
Jun 37 47 42 0 92       5 5 15 41   4   11 5 11 3 37 2 2   6     1 2 1 51
Jul 8 76 39 0 101       6 13 12 49   2   13 3 8 7 42 2     3     3 1   50
Aug 1 71 22 0 124       9 3 12 87 1 1   6   7 4 39       1     1 4   34
Sep 1 28 34 0 70       7 16 31 97 1 5   14   14 8 19 1     9   1 1 10   48
Oct 2 17 77 1 46   1   4 8 19 74   15 2 19 4 21 7 15   4   4 3   3 5 5 57
Nov 0 5 77 1 19       18 7 55 94   26 3 6 5 6 10 7   6   2       1   48
Dec 3 2 78 0 7       19 13 88 85   21 1 12   4 23 1 1 4   5       14   23
Tot 90 298 563 6 563 1 1 1 208 187 549 834 2 163 22 187 38 110 176 187 8 31 2 44 3 2 9 67 10 477
% 1.9% 6.2% 11.6% 0.1% 11.6% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 4.3% 3.9% 11.3% 17.2% 0.0% 3.4% 0.5% 3.9% 0.8% 2.3% 3.6% 3.9% 0.2% 0.6% 0.0% 0.9% 0.1% 0.0% 0.2% 1.4% 0.2% 9.9%

Month MT ID CO MN WY CA ME MI NH OR NY ND NV AZ WI UT NM SD NE WV WA PA IA VA NC TX VT IL KS MA
Jan 67 5 57 82 12 1 38 8 16   29 25 2 0 1 2   3 2       2       1 1    
Feb 53 10 38 80 27 3 46 15 30   28 14 1 1 5 2             0              
Mar 67 20 10 81 28 1 36 48 24 1 29 21 3 4 9 1 2 2 3 1     2     2       1
Apr 62 21 33 39 49 23 14 24 16 8 17 16 9 11 6 3 10 7 6 1   1 0              
May 58 48 56 35 50 24 6 27 20 18 11 13 24 22 9 6 9 3 5 2   1 0              
Jun 41 92 42 15 51 47 5 5 11 37 3 4 11 37 2 6 5 2   1 1 2 0              
Jul 49 101 39 12 50 76 6 13 13 42 7 2 8 8 1 3 3       3 2 0              
Aug 87 124 22 12 34 71 9 3 6 39 4 1 7 1 4 1         1   0   1          
Sep 97 70 34 31 48 28 7 16 14 19 8 5 14 1 10 9         1 1 0   1   1      
Oct 74 46 77 19 57 17 4 8 19 15 7 15 21 2 5 4 4 4 2 5 3   1 3         1  
Nov 94 19 77 55 48 5 18 7 6 7 10 26 6 0 1 2 5 6 3       1              
Dec 85 7 78 88 23 2 19 13 12 1 23 21 4 3 14 5   4 1     1 0              
Tot 834 563 563 549 477 298 208 187 187 187 176 163 110 90 67 44 38 31 22 10 9 8 6 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
% 17.2% 11.6% 11.6% 11.3% 9.9% 6.2% 4.3% 3.9% 3.9% 3.9% 3.6% 3.4% 2.3% 1.9% 1.4% 0.9% 0.8% 0.6% 0.5% 0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Cum% 17.2% 28.9% 40.5% 51.8% 61.7% 67.9% 72.2% 76.0% 79.9% 83.8% 87.4% 90.8% 93.0% 94.9% 96.3% 97.2% 98.0% 98.6% 99.1% 99.3% 99.5% 99.6% 99.8% 99.8% 99.9% 99.9% 99.9%  100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Below are the top twenty stations:

497 Stanley ID
394 West Yellowstone WY
207 Gunnison CO
186 Truckee CA
150 Alamosa CO
136 Saranac Lake NY
119 Wisdom MT
108 Jackson WY
104 Berlin NH
98 Fraser CO
89 Bondurant WY
88 Ely NV
85 Presque Isle ME
81 Whitefield NH
74 Big Piney WY
72 Houlton ME
71 International Falls MN
61 Embarrass MN
52 Williston ND

The reason Stanley, Idaho doesn't enjoy(?) the frigid reputation of International Falls, Minnesota is that its lows occur mostly during the summer months.

Note the large number of records, mostly summer, for Truckee, California. Between Truckee and Death Valley, it is fairly common for California to have the national high and low on the same day.

General Patterns

This map shows the frequency of records by station. Note the dominance of states along the Canadian border and the Rockies.

The maps below show highs and lows for January and July.

The pattern for January shows the expected dominance of the "cold belt" states and the Rockies. Incursions of cold air masses push records as far south as Nebraska and Iowa.

By July, lows are more likely to occur in the mountain states. They have spread south into the Colorado Plateau and west to the Pacific Northwest.

The bar graph above shows seasonal distribution of national lows. There are three main groups of states. Montana, Colorado, and Wyoming show the most consistent occurrence year-round, with Montana having the most uniform distribution. Minnesota, Michigan, Maine, North Dakota, New York, and New Hampshire dominate the winter months, and Arizona, Oregon and Idaho dominate the summer months. Nevada has a strong summer presence but actually peaks in spring and fall.

The map above shows national highs by month and state. The scales for each state are proportional for that state and do not reflect absolute numbers. Several patterns can be seen.

The graph above shows national lows by date. The curve is a strangely disjointed one. The scatter from November to March is much greater than the rest of the year. Furthermore, the curve seems to show a fairly linear increase from March to July, a sharp peak, and a linear decrease from then until the end of October.


U.S. Daily Highs
U.S. Daily Temperature Extremes

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Created 27 December 2006, Last Update 09 August 2010

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