The Coldest (and Warmest) Recorded Temperature in Every U.S. State
Weather is becoming more erratic in the United States (and everywhere). But historical record highs and lows don't tell the whole story.
Hot and cold
Sure, weather stats are fun—it was how cold in Alabama on that day in 1971?? But they don’t give an accurate picture of what’s happening with our climate in any remotely meaningful way. As David Easterling, climate trend specialist with NOAA‘s National Centers for Environmental Information, puts it, “A record doesn’t mean that much unless you’re looking at how often records are being broken in an aggregate sense over a large region; that’s where it becomes important.” To have our cake—the fun stats—and eat it, too—the longer-term analysis of what’s going on in our rapidly climate-changing world—here we present the hottest and coldest days on record for each of the 50 states plus Puerto Rico, but also check in on the more relevant data that helps put into perspective what happened in the decade we just left behind, which was the hottest on record across the globe. Unless otherwise indicated, all information is taken from NOAA’s State Climate Extremes Committee, and its State Climate Summaries for 2017 or, when available, 2019. Wherever you live, knowing the 6 types of clouds can help you predict the weather.
Hottest: 112°F, September 6, 1925, in Centerville
Coldest: -27°F, January 30, 1966, in New Market
Alabama, like other states in the south, experienced a cooling period of almost 2°F in the 1970s, after record-hot temps in the 1920s and ’30s. As a result, the region is the only one that hasn’t experienced overall warming since 1900; the rest of us have experienced an average warming of 1.5°F. However, it did see above-average precipitation from 2015 to 2018 and was clobbered by a 2011 “tornado outbreak” across the south, Midwest, and Northeast.
Hottest: 110°F, June 27, 1915, in Fort Yukon
Coldest: -80°F, January 23, 1971, in Prospect Creek
Alaska has been warming more and faster than the rest of us—2.5°F since the 1970s, and it’s seeing well-above-average summer and winter temps. Its second and fifth warmest years on record were 2014 and 2015 respectively. Increasing temperatures have led to the melting of permafrost; additionally, reports NOAA, “late summer Arctic sea ice extent and thickness has decreased substantially in the last several decades and the ice volume is approximately one half of that observed prior to satellite monitoring in 1979,” with the lowest minimum Arctic sea ice extent occurring in 2012. Wildfire occurrence and severity are also on the rise. Find out the penguin species that could disappear by the end of the century.
Hottest: 128°F, June 29, 1994, in Lake Havasu City
Coldest: -40°F, January 7, 1971, in Hawley Lake
Droughts are this arid/semi-arid state’s top concern—an extended drought ongoing in the Midwest has resulted in historic low water levels in 2009 and 2014—as is a related issue, wildfires. An increase in extremely warm nights and a decrease in very cold ones aren’t helping. A below-normal precipitation level at the beginning of the 21st century was followed by an above-average period from 2010 to 2014, thanks to warmer sea surface temperatures off the Pacific Coast, culminating in a destructive 2014 monsoon season. These are the 11 myths you need to stop believing right now.
Hottest: 120°F, August 10, 1936, in Ozark
Coldest: -29°F, February 13, 1905, in Gravette
Record-high temps here in 1936 mimic those around the region during that period—brought about by drought during the Dust Bowl, an era in which human activities also drastically altered climate and exacerbated its impacts, according to Easterling. Like other southern states, it’s been largely exempt from significant temperature increases, but it’s on track for a significant reversal by the end of this century, which will lead to higher evaporation of surface water and worsening droughts.
Hottest: 134°F, July 10, 1913, in Greenland Ranch
Coldest: -45°F, January 20, 1937, in Boca
In the 121 years since we’ve been keeping track, California experienced the two hottest years on record in 2014 and 2015, while the first decade of the 21st century had the second-highest frequency of days reaching at least 100°F. Drought is a massive problem for much of the state and as we’ve seen the past couple of years, this has led to the exacerbation of wildfires; they’re projected to become more frequent and severe. Sea level rise has also meant tidal flooding is also on the rise, with La Jolla, for example, experiencing its greatest number of flood days in 2015. These 13 islands around the world could also disappear in the next 80 years.
Hottest: 115°F, July 20, 2019, in John Martin Dam
Coldest: -61°F, February 1, 1985, in Maybell
Extremely cold days have been waning here since 1990—bad news for Colorado’s ski sector. Its hottest overall year on record was 2012, and it’s getting more hot days than ever. That year also produced one of the state’s worst wildfire seasons in history, with one fire alone burning 85,000 acres. Droughts here are fixing to get more intense, which will have serious implications not only for Colorado but for the states that rely on its rivers for their own water supplies.
Hottest: (tie) 106°F, August 23, 1916, in Torrington and July 15, 1995 in Danbury
Coldest: (tie) -32°F, February 16, 1943, in Falls Village and January 22, 1961 in Coventry
In the last 100 years, temperatures in this New England state have increased by 3°F. The number of hot days and warm nights have also been on the rise since the 1980s. It may seem paradoxical but Connecticut experienced its wettest five years from 2007 to 2011. Wetter weather happens with warming, says Easterling, because a more-heated atmosphere produces more water vapor, leading to more heavy rainfall events; as you might expect, these are expected to increase here over the coming years.
Hottest: 110°F, July 21, 1930, in Millsboro
Coldest: -17°F, Jan 27, 1940, in Millsboro
Much of this small state lies along the Atlantic Coast, which means it’s highly vulnerable to flooding; it was severely impacted by both Hurricane Sandy and Irene, for example. Eight inches of sea-level rise since the 1880s has also led to an increase in what NOAA calls “nuisance floods” as well as tidal flood days above the nuisance level; it experienced its most ever of these in the years 2009 to 2011. As if it didn’t have enough water to contend with, Delaware’s long-term average for heavy precipitation events—a day that produces more than 2 inches—has been rising since the ’90s.
Hottest: 109°F, June 29, 1931, in Monticello
Coldest: -2°F, Feb 13, 1899, in Tallahassee
Fun fact about Florida: it’s the most humid state in the country. The discomfort of that phenomenon has only been exacerbated by the “very dramatic” rise in very warm nights the state has seen in the last 20 years, according to NOAA. Nights with below-freezing temps and annual precipitation are also seeing significant five-year plummets. Weirdly, it also had a severe cold snap in 2010 that ruined that year’s citrus production; Easterling explains that this is the kind of weather even made possible by a warming arctic, which allows normally stable polar vortex temps to break loose and head south. Also of note: the last ten years have seen 13 weather and climate disasters in the state, related to hurricanes and tropical storms, as well as wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves.
Hottest: (tie) 112°F, August 20, 1983, in Greenville and July 24, 1952, in Louisville
Coldest: -17°F, Jan 27, 1940 in CCC Camp Fire F-16
“The year 2012 was the third hottest in the state’s history, with a particularly scorching June,” reports NOAA, with June 29 in Athens setting its all-time high-temperature record at 109°F with Atlanta following suit, on June 30, with its record high of 106°F. Odd temperature fluctuations, seen in many states, have also had it reeling: in 2007, a very warm March was followed by several freezing days in April, with devastating agricultural effects. It had its wettest year in 2013, with a statewide average of 63.49 inches. Find out what every state in America is best—and worst—at.
Hottest: 100°F, April 27, 1931, in Pahala
Coldest: 12°F, May 17, 1979, at Mauna Kea Observatory 111
The Aloha state hasn’t been warming as much or as fast as some other places. One of the main changes here has been to precipitation—which has been decreasing overall across the islands, especially in the last few years, with 2010 experiencing, in some cases, “exceptional” drought that led to decreased drinking water and to increased risk of fires. Global increases in warming have nevertheless led to sea level rises, which in Hawaii has caused damaging floods and the erosion of beaches. All the more reason to plan a trip to one or all of these best beaches in Hawaii.
Hottest: 118°F, July 28, 1934, in Orofino
Coldest: -60°F, January 18, 1943, in Island Park
The last two decades have seen an increase in very hot days and very warm nights across Idaho, mimicking trends elsewhere. Winters have also gotten warmer from 1990 to 2014. Another trend that might be cause for concern: extreme precipitation events, with days of at least 1 inch of rain, increased over the past decade, although the highest number of these events occurred between 1995 and 1999. As much as 100 inches of snowfall in the winter of 1996-’97, in conjunction with all that rain, caused one-third of counties in the state to declare states of emergency due to floods and mudslides. And all this is fixing to get worse as we move through the 21st century.
Hottest: 117°F, July 14, 1954, in East St. Louis/Parks College
Coldest: -38°F, January 31, 2019, in Mount Carroll
Although summer temps in this Midwestern state haven’t increased much, spring temps have been on the rise. Illinois also saw its wettest five-year period on record from 2007 to 2011, followed, in 2012, by a massive drought that affected large swaths of the Midwest overall—the third driest period in the region in 120 years. All this presents challenges for agriculture here; Illinois is an important producer of corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, hogs, sheep, and poultry, among other commodities, and it’s suffered significant losses as a result of these climate changes. Don’t miss these 30 U.S. state facts everyone gets wrong.
Hottest: 116°F, July 14, 1936, in Collegeville/St. Joseph County
Coldest: -36°F, January 19, 1994, in New Whiteland
Like Illinois, Indiana isn’t seeing an increase in hot days, but it has been getting fewer very cold ones since the 1990s. Its record annual rainfall, of 55.21 inches, corresponds with its wettest five-year period of 2007-2011; earlier, in 2004, it also had one of its worst winter storms in which 20 inches of snow fell over a 2-day period. Says Easterling, “We’re forcing climate changes to happen much faster than has ever happened because of human contributions to greenhouse gasses.”
Hottest: 118°F, July 20, 1934, in Keokuk
Coldest: (tie) -47°F February 3, 1996, in Elkader & January 12, 1912 in Washta
Like other Dust-Bowl impacted states, Iowa had its hottest-ever temps in the 1930s; nevertheless, 2012 was its hottest year on record, with temperatures soaring to 4.6°F above the long-term average, after a drought year in 2011. The Hawkeye State also saw its highest number of extreme precipitation events in the last ten years. Could Dust Bowl-like climate conditions and the “feedback” changes in terms of how land surface interacts with the atmosphere, return to agriculture-heavy states like this one? “It certainly can, and we should continue to examine” the lessons we learned in the 1930s, says Easterling.
Hottest: (tie) 121°F, July 18, 1936 in Fredonia & July 24, 1936, in Alton
Coldest: -40°F, February 13, 1905, in Lebanon
“The last decade has been one of the warmest on record for Kansas, surpassed only (slightly) by the extreme heat of the 1930s Dust Bowl era, when extreme drought and poor land management likely exacerbated the hot summer temperatures,” according to NOAA. Other stats for the state are similarly troubling: it’s seeing less freeze as well as fluctuations in precipitation, and precipitation is predicted to increase in winters and decrease in summers as this century progresses. Kansas also gets the third-highest number of tornadoes in the country.
Hottest: 114°F, July 28, 1930, in Greensburg
Coldest: -37°F, January 19, 1994, in Shelbyville
Kentucky has been getting its share of heavy precipitation events in the last 20 years, and while NOAA projects that those will increase, so will drought conditions—a mix that’s a lose-lose for agriculture. It’s seeing less-cold winters, too. And from 2005 to 2015 it experienced nine FEMA disaster events and it surpassed its tornado record in 2011, with 42 hitting the state.
Hottest: 114°F, August 10, 1936, in Plain Dealing
Coldest: -16°F, February 13, 1899, in Minden
Louisiana has gotten clobbered by a series of hurricanes starting in 1985 with Andrew, the deadliest being Katrina in 2005, with over 1,500 fatalities, mostly to historically under-served populations. Long terms climate change predictions are for continued and growing vulnerability to increasingly powerful storms. The year 2011 saw some of the worst flooding along the Mississippi River, while 2016 brought as much as 30 inches of rainfall in just a few days in a historic flooding event. Yes, the state is wet. Paradoxically, it also suffers from droughts; NOAA reports that “since the creation of the United States Drought Monitor Map in 2000, Louisiana [was] completely drought-free for approximately 50 percent of the time” from 2000 to 2018. This is how hurricanes get their names.
Hottest: (tie) 105°F, July 10, 1911, and July 4, 1911, in North Bridgton
Coldest: -50°F, January 16, 2009, in Big Black River
Maine has been seeing pretty dramatic changes over the last 100 years, with temperatures increasing by 3°F and winter temperatures since the 1990s increasing twice as fast as summer temperatures. It’s getting wetter, too, with precipitation—including extreme precipitation events—as well as sea-level rise going up and up. In fact, it’s seen historically high amounts of precipitation in the last ten years, and the magnitude of 24-hour, 100-year rain events has increased, in some regions, by more than 20 percent. Weather-related disasters have been declared in every county since 2007; these were once a rare occurrence due to the fact that common East Coast hurricanes have not usually made it that far north. Clearly that’s no longer the case.
Hottest: (3-way tie) 109°F, August 6-7, 1918, in Cumberland, July 10, 1936, in Frederick and July 3, 1898, in Boettcherville
Coldest: -40°F, January 13, 1912, in Oakland
From a one to four feet of sea-level rise is forecast for this small state that skirts the Atlantic Ocean and is divided by the Chesapeake Bay following current trends and possibly leading to “significant environmental and economic impacts,” according to NOAA. Flooding will be worsened by increased rainfall as well, which has been well above average already for the last 20 years. Five of Maryland’s 10 hottest years have occurred since 2000, with its hottest year on record happening in 2012. Very hot days and very warm nights both spiked in the period between 2010 and 2014. All of this could put St. Michaels, one of America’s most beautiful seaside towns, in peril.
Hottest: 107°F, August 2, 1975, in Chester
Coldest: (3-way tie) -35°F, February 15, 1943, in Coldbrook, January 12, 1981, in Chester and January 5, 1904, in Taunton
Like Maine, the Bay State has seen a 3°F rise in temperature since the last century, and like Maryland, it’s on track to get up to 4 inches of sea-level rise before this century is out. Unlike these states, it had one of its coldest winters in 2014, although it had been on track to have a real warm one…until January. That’s when, “in less than four weeks, five storms dumped almost 8 feet of snow, obliterating records. Two of the storms were among the ten largest recorded. The eventual season total was 110.6 inches of snow, a record and almost 44 inches above average. The arctic weather brought arctic chill. The temperature didn’t hit 40 degrees from January 20 through March 3, another record,” according to BePrepared.com.
Hottest: 112°F, July 13, 1936, in Stanwood
Coldest: -51°F, Feb 9, 1934, in Vanderbilt
A winter warming trend throughout the Midwest generally is in evidence in Michigan, where a below-average number of cold nights and a significant reduction in ice cover has been in evidence in recent decades, particularly from 2003 to 2013. Extreme precipitation events are on the rise, including snowfall, with the shorelines of its biggest lakes experiencing “significant upwards trends” in snow dumps. Erratic temperature fluctuations have wreaked havoc on agriculture: 2012s early spring temperatures, followed by a frost, destroyed fruit crops to the tune of $225 million worth of damage.
Hottest: 115°F, July 29, 1917, in Beardsley
Coldest: -60°F, February 2, 1996, in Tower
“Since the year 2000, Minnesota has experienced seven out of its ten warmest years on record,” reports NOAA, with the warming concentrated in the winter while summers have not warmed as much, except for nighttime temps. Twenty-five years of above-average annual rainfall hasn’t precluded droughts, though, and both are on track to just get more significant over the next century. One of the state’s biggest concerns is thunderstorms, which “cause more property damage than any other extreme weather type in Minnesota.” These are the 13 things you should never do in a thunderstorm.
Hottest: 115°F, July 29, 1930, on Holly Springs
Coldest: -19°F, January 30, 1966, on Corinth
The years 2015, 2016, and 2017 were the 10th, 3rd, and 6th warmest years on record in the Magnolia State, with a record number of very warm nights happening in the period between 2010 to 2014. It’s vulnerable to all sorts of storms, and from 2005 to 2018, it had 20 FEMA disaster declarations—15 for severe storms, tornadoes, and floods, five for hurricanes. Like its neighbor, Louisiana, it was trounced by Hurricane Katrina, sustaining 238 fatalities and billions of dollars worth of damages. It’s also experienced its highest number of tornadoes since 2005, with 100 hitting that year, 110 in 2008, and 97 in 2011.
Hottest: 118°F, July 14, 1954, in Warsaw
Coldest: -40°F February 13, 1905, in Warsaw
Missouri is getting warmer winters, as are so many southern states—and also more humid summers. Its annual precipitation hasn’t spiked, but its incidence of heavy rain events certainly has; 2011 saw extensive flooding, with over hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. That year also saw its deadliest tornado strike, with a category EF-5 tornado causing winds of 200 miles per hour and killing over 150 people—the deadliest in U.S. history. Springtime flooding, as well as drought conditions, are on track to worsen this century.
Hottest: (tie) 117°F, July 20, 1893, in Glendive and July 5, 1937, in Medicine Lake
Coldest: -70°F, January 20, 1954 in Rogers Pass
Montana has been getting fewer cold nights since the 1990s. And so far in this century, the state has experienced its warmest period on record. The year 2012 was its third-hottest (this is another state that was impacted by the Dust Bowl), with the average annual temperate 3.4°F above normal. In that same year, the state had its driest July to September period in the historical record, which led to severe drought and the more than 2,000 wildfires that occurred starting in October, burning more than 1.2 million acres. Its record low of -70°F in 1954 is actually the lowest ever recorded in the contiguous United States.
Hottest: (3- way tie) 118°F, July 15, 1934, in Geneva, July 17, 1936, in Hartington and July 24, 1936, in Minden
Coldest: -47°F (tie) December 22, 1989, in Oshkosh and February 12, 1899, in Bridgeport
Nebraska actually had a paucity of rainfall in 2012, its driest year on record, with a statewide low of 13.36 inches. Drought conditions wrecked agriculture that year, after a 2011 that saw farmland flooding from melting snowpack; the Mississippi River crested at 36.29 feet one day in July in Omaha. Once again, a devastating combination of extreme precipitation events and droughts are projected to increase here in the coming years.
Hottest: 125°F, June 29, 1994, in Laughlin
Coldest: -50°F, January 8, 1937, in San Jacinto
Extreme heat days here on are the rise, with the highest five-year averages occurring from 2000 to 2004 and 2005 to 2009. Well-below average precipitation from 2011 to 2015 has also meant a real spike in drought—which was already a concern for this arid state. Perhaps not surprisingly, FEMA disaster declarations from wildfires have been cropping up since 2004; in 2012, 9 million acres burned. Projections of decreased snowpack and increased temperatures will have a severe impact on available drinking water in the state.
Hottest: 106°F, July 4, 1911, in Nashua
Coldest: -50°F, January 22, 1885, on Mount Washington
Warming is the word for New Hampshire—average temps are up 3°F since the beginning of the 20th century, although nights have warmed by 4°F. The greatest number of hot days on record occurred during the most recent five-year recorded period of 2010 to 2014, with nine days per year counted; the highest number of warm nights happened between 2000 and 2004. Precipitation records have been broken here recently, too: record amounts of summer rainfall and the largest number of extreme precipitation events occurred during 2005–2009.
Hottest: 110°F, July 10, 1936, in Runyon
Coldest: -34°F, January 5, 1904, in River Vale
The Garden State is also getting warmer and wetter. The year 2012 brought Superstorm Sandy, with its 10-foot-above-normal storm surge, strong winds, and almost $30 billion worth of damage. And with spring precipitation projected to increase by the middle of this century, thanks to what NOAA designates a “higher emissions pathway,” look for water-related damage to increase across the state as well, especially in ocean-adjacent counties. See what the world’s most polluted beaches used to look like.
Hottest: 122°F, June 27, 1994, near Carlsbad
Coldest: -50°F, February 1, 1951, in Gavilan
This climactically diverse state has actually seen a whopping 2°F, increase in temperature just since the 1970s, and its eastern plains especially have seen an uptick in hot days, over 100°F, and warm nights over 70°F. New Mexico had its second-worst statewide drought since the early 1950s, in 2011–2014, which also resulted in near-record-low levels of water in its reservoirs. Although it had its highest number of extreme precipitation events from 2015 to 2018, this is too short a period to constitute a trend—unlike in so many other regions of the United States.
Hottest: 108°F, July 22, 1926, in Troy
Coldest: -52°F, February 18, 1979, in Old Forge
A 2°F jump in temperature has occurred here only in the last 20 years. According to NOAA, this, coupled with high humidity, is cause for concern in densely populated areas like New York City. Temperatures in the 2000s have been higher than any other historical period, with 2012 the hottest on record, with a statewide average temperature more than 4°F above the long-term average. The state has also seen more than the average amount of sea-level rise—13 inches since 1880, rather than 8 inches globally.
Hottest: 110°F, August 21, 1983, near Fayetteville
Coldest: -34°F, January 21, 1985, on Mount Mitchell
The year 2007 was pretty rotten for the Tarheel State: It was the driest year in its history, with a staggering drought taking hold in August, thanks at least in part to a strong high-pressure system called the Bermuda High and to La Nina. The state is also vulnerable to hurricanes and other storms; Hurricane Florence in 2018 was its most intense rain event ever. Up to 36 inches of rain caused extensive damage—although it was its flock of 30 tornadoes on one day in April of 2011 that proved fatal, with 24 deaths.
Hottest: 121°F, July 6, 1936, in Steele
Coldest: -60°F, February 15, 1936, in Parshall
If you thought New York’s temperature increases were severe, North Dakota is experiencing the greatest of any in the continental United States—with average annual increases of 0.26°F per decade. The Red River Valley tends to flood during the spring thaw and the last two decades or so have seen some flood doozies, including a 1997 record that was surpassed in 2009, “when the river at Fargo reached the highest level in recorded history,” according to NOAA. North Dakota had its highest number of extreme precipitation events in the last recorded five-year period.
Hottest: 113°F, July 21, 1934, in Gallipolis
Coldest: -39°F, February 10, 1899, in Milligan
More telling than its record Dust Bowl-related high-temperature day back in 1934 are Ohio’s two hottest years on record: 1998 and 2012 coming in first and second place respectively. Also significant: the polar vortex, set loose from the Arctic due to melting ice there, led to a higher than average number of very cold nights in 2014 and 2015.
Hottest: (3-way tie) 120°F, August 10, 1936, in Poteau, August 12, 1936, July 19, 1936 in Jackson County and July 18, 1936, in Alva
Coldest: -31°F, February 10, 2011 in Nowata
Winter warming is a big part of the climactic story in Oklahoma. So is drought—such as the one that occurred in 2011, after the state experienced its driest January to October period on record, with only a little over 19 inches of rain. That same year, wildfires broke out, burning some 132,000 acres.
Hottest: (tie) 119°F, August 10, 1898, in Pendleton Downtown and July 29, 1898, in Prineville
Coldest: (tie) -54°F, February 10, 1933, in Seneca and February 9, 1933, in Ukiah
What’s the effect of rising temps on this Pacific Coast state? It’s going to see a shift in its snowfall. NOAA predicts that snow will fall at higher and higher elevations, with increasing incidents of rainfall instead at lower elevations. This could have dire consequences on water supply, much of which in the drier summer months comes from melting snowpack. “For example,” says NOAA, a 2015 snow drought “caused hundreds of million dollars in crop losses, as well as negatively impact[ed] local fish populations.”
Hottest: (tie) 111°F, July 9 and 10, 1936, in Phoenixville
Coldest: -42°F, January 5, 1904, in Smethport
Pennsylvania saw its greatest number of tidal flooding days in 2011, thanks in part to the remnants of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee passing through the state, while 2012 brought a destructive cluster of thunderstorms called a derecho. That was also the year that the annual average temperature tied for first place with 1998.
Hottest: 104°F, July 2, 1996, in Mona Island
Coldest: (3-way tie) 40°F, January 24, 1966, in San Sebastien, March 27, 1985 in Rincon and March 9, 1911, in Aibonito
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, the last few years have not been kind to Puerto Rico, which was absolutely decimated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, the effects of which it is still acutely suffering. Fear runs high that another massive, destructive storm will hit again—like Tropical Storm Karen, which hit in September 2019, increasing Puerto Rico’s damage burden.
Hottest: 104°F, August 2, 1975, in Providence
Coldest: -28°F, January 11, 1942, in Wood River Junction
Cold waves are down, heat waves are up in this tiny ocean state. Also on the rise: annual precipitation and flood days; in six of the last ten years, the state sought FEMA disaster declarations. This is a story that repeats—and will continue to repeat—across the coastal Northeast.
Hottest: 113°F, June 29, 2012, in Columbia
Coldest: -19°F, January 21, 1985, in Caesars Head
Charleston’s sea-level rise is occurring at double the global rate—1.3 inches per decade. The whole state had its greatest number of flooding days in 2015 and already, 800 square miles of coastline lie in dangerous territory at about 4 inches above the high tide line. With all that water everywhere, there will be less to drink, with increasing temps leading to loss of soil moisture and ultimately, more intense droughts.
Hottest: (tie) 120°F, July 15, 2006, in Fort Pierre 17 and July 5, 1936, in Gann Valley
Coldest: -58°F, February 17, 1936, in McIntosh
A state that frequently gets temperatures above 100°F in summer had its hottest year on record—as did so many Great Plains states—in 2012. The year 2012 was also a banner year for drought; it had its driest July to September period, with less than 3 inches of precipitation, while intense heat and humidity in 2011 led to a few thousand livestock deaths. Nights, rather than days, are getting warmer here. An unseasonably early blizzard in 2013 brought as much as 55 inches of snow over three days in some locations, leading to the deaths of 45,000 head of livestock.
Hottest: (tie) 113°F, July 29 and August 9, 1930, in Perryville
Coldest: -32°F, December 30, 1917, in Mountain City
Tennessee got walloped with 106 tornadoes in April 2011, a month in which a total of 542 tornadoes ripped across the U.S. Needless to say, this was a record. Record amounts of rainfall fell in May 2010, although the state hasn’t had its wettest year since 1957. Weirdly, in a phenomenon climate scientists have not been able to explain, the state cooled more than everyone else from the 1930s through the 1960s, although its since been making up for it; 2012 was its second-warmest year on record.
Hottest: (tie) 120°F, August 12, 1936, in Seymour and June 28, 1994, in Monahans
Coldest: (tie) -23°F, February 12, 1899, in Tulia Near and February 8, 1933, in Seminole
Everything is bigger in Texas, including its hot temperatures; in 2011, during a state-wide heatwave, the Dallas/Fort Worth area experienced the second-longest number of consecutive extremely hot days over 100°F, with 40. In May 2015, historic amounts of flash flooding on the Blanco River coincided with the state’s highest monthly average of rainfall—this despite the fact that Texas is actually getting below-average rainfall and extreme precipitation events lately.
Hottest: 117°F, July 5, 1985, in St. George
Coldest: -50°F, January 5, 1913, in East Portal
Utah has gotten real hot since the beginning of the 21st century, experiencing its warmest period on record. Warmer temps have meant lower amounts of snow is falling, and, no surprise, this means snow depth and cover are both decreasing. A severe drought in 2012 followed on the heels of one of its driest years on record since 1895. Is this going to get worse as the century progresses? Short answer: yes.
Hottest: 107°F, July 7, 1912, in Vernon
Coldest: -50°F, December 30, 1933, in Bloomfield
Although you might not hear about the effects of hurricanes in Vermont as much as in more susceptible states, in 2011 this landlocked New England state had its worst flooding since 1927 when Tropical Storm Irene dumped up to 7 inches of rain in less than 18 hours. Overflowing rivers caused $733 million worth of damage. Look for more of this to come, following the trend of the last 15 years, which have accounted for Vermont’s wettest years ever.
Hottest: (tie) 110°F, July 5 and 7, 1900, in Colombia and July 15, 1954, in Balcony Falls
Coldest: -30°F, January 21, 1985, in Charlottesville
Sea level rise: check. Hurricane and storm damage: check. Droughts: check. Winter warming: check. Like so many states, Virginia is feeling the effects of climate change on its overall weather patterns and outcomes. This could affect the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, one of the longest bridges in the world.
Hottest: (tie) 118°F, August 5, 1961, in Ice Harbor Dam and July 24, 1928, in Wahluke
Coldest: -48°F, December 30, 1968, in Winthrop
Washington already, normally, gets insane amounts of rain—as much as 150 inches on some parts of the Olympic Peninsula some years—so its lucky that climate trends aren’t bringing more of this. What is of concern is the diminished amounts of snow, which can lead to drought conditions and—again in 2015—wildfires, which in this year were the most destructive ever.
Hottest: (tie) 112°F, August 4, 1930, in Moorefield and July 10, 1936, in Martinsburg
Coldest: -37°F, December 30, 1917 in Lewisburg
“Flood-producing extreme precipitation over [West Virginia’s rugged topography] is the costliest and most severe natural hazard for the state,” according to NOAA. “From 2005 to 2014 the state received 16 FEMA disaster declarations, 12 of which were related to severe storms and flooding events.”
Hottest: 114°F, July 13, 1936, in Wisconsin Dells
Coldest: (tie) -55°F, Feb 2 and 4, 1996, in Couderay
Yeah, it gets cold and super-icy in Wisconsin. But one trend of particular concern to the state’s cranberry growers, who produce the most of the crop of any state in the country, is that temps no longer get and stay cold. This has led to a decrease in stable ice conditions, which these farmers need in order to maintain healthy marshes.
Hottest: (tie) 115°F, August 8, 1983, in Basin and July 15, 1988, in Diversion Dam
Coldest: -66°F, February 9, 1933, in Yellowstone National Park
If you’ve read this far, you’ve doubtless managed to extrapolate what some of the regional trends are that affect all the states in our union. Want to ensure that some of the worst impacts of climate change—already being experienced in many places, and absolutely guaranteed by science to get worse and more erratic—are mitigated? Get informed, then make sure your representative hears from you about what steps you expect her to take in order to help preserve the future of life on our planet.