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What Is The Coldest City In Montana? 2024 Update


Due to its location and subtle beauty, Montana is sometimes forgotten about when people bring up the Pacific Northwest, but the state has some of the most gorgeous natural scenery of any U.S. state. Although Montana is a northern state, it has a surprising amount of diversity in climate. Some areas are relatively temperate, and others get very cold. For example, the coldest city in Montana is West Yellowstone, a small town on the edge of the national park.

West Yellowstone is notoriously cold due to its high elevation: 6,000 feet, to be exact. The town is located on a plateau that has few windbreaks, and the temperature gets bitterly cold at night. Temperatures regularly reach between 14°F/-10°C and 0°F/-17°C during winter, with January being the coldest month. Highs get to about 25°F/-3.8°C during the same period, making jackets an absolute necessity.

Although West Yellowstone is the coldest city in Montana as far as consistently low temperatures, the coldest temperature recorded in the state was actually in Rogers Pass, north of Helena. On January 20, 1954, the temperature plummeted to a bone-chilling -70°F/-56°C, which is also the coldest temperature ever recorded in the contiguous US.

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Why Does Montana Get So Cold?

Image Credit: Michael Bourgault, Unsplash

People often assume that northern U.S states are naturally cold places, and for the most part, they’re right. Montana, though, is something of an anomaly. The state has naturally low humidity, which plays havoc with weather patterns like precipitation and air currents.

Because of this low humidity, the temperature is rarely consistent in the state. Depending on the season, you might see dramatic spikes or drops in temperature in as little as a few hours or a day. However, when winter comes to town, Montana gets seriously cold. Thankfully, though, severe cold snaps seldom last very long.

Western Montana has a lot of mountains and deep valleys that trap cold air and prevent it from circulating throughout the state. As a result, it stays very cold there and receives heavy snow. Eastern Montana isn’t as cold, but don’t assume it doesn’t get cold! Overall, Montana gets as much as 50 inches of snow per year, and that’s not even counting blizzards or abnormal cold snaps.

What Are Some of The Other Coldest States in the US?

Montana Field
Image Credit: Matthew Lancaster, Unsplash

Montana might hold the record in the lower US for the lowest temperature recorded, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only state to suffer through cold winters. Alaska, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wyoming also get extremely cold during the winters. Let’s look at some of their average winter temperatures to get a more concrete idea.

Wyoming average winter temperature: 5°F to 18°F/-7°C to -15°C
North Dakota average winter temperature: 2°F to 17°F/-8°C to 16°C
Alaska average winter temperature: 0°F to -30°F/-1°C to -17°C
Minnesota average winter temperature: 0°F to 20°F/-6°C to -17°C

These figures are only estimates because temperatures vary widely based on the area. In the south of South Dakota, for example, it gets very, very warm, while the northern part of the state receives the brunt of winter’s wrath.

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Montana is a beautiful state loaded with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the U.S, but it gets bitterly cold during the winters. After all, it holds the national record for the coldest temperature in the lower 48 states! Don’t be scared, though, because it’s perfectly livable up there with a jacket or two.

See also: What Is the Coldest City in Florida?

Featured Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay

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