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What Is the Coldest Your City Has Been on Christmas Day?

Published in 21 December, 2020

At a Glance

  • Temperatures can get downright frigid on Christmas, and many cities have seen the mercury plummet below zero.

  • Even in the South, temperatures have dropped below the freezing mark – and below zero in some areas.

Although chilly conditions are generally required for snow, which many hope to wake up to on Christmas, few dream of a cold Christmas. Nevertheless, it can get quite cold on Christmas Day in the U.S. – even across the southern tier.

Cooler air is increasingly likely for many cities in the eastern half of the country on Christmas, many of which saw relatively mild conditions on Christmas last year.

However, this arctic air is not expected to be record-breaking, which may have you wondering how cold these Christmas Day records really are.

Below, we highlight the coldest temperatures on record for several U.S. cities.

Northeast

Many cities in the Northeast have seen the mercury drop below zero on Christmas. Several locations have lows in the minus 20s as the coldest temperature on record for Christmas Day, including Syracuse, New York, Burlington, Vermont, and Caribou, Maine.

The coldest high temperatures on record for the day are also subzero in those three cities. Burlington only reached minus 5 degrees in 1980, while Syracuse topped out at minus 2 degrees that same year.

Locations from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Richmond, Virginia, all recorded both the coldest high and low temperatures in 1983. Pittsburgh experienced a low of minus 12 degrees that year and the high only reached 0 degrees. Richmond and Washington D.C. both saw a low of 3 degrees, with a high of just 14 degrees.

Farther north, New York City and Boston both have seen temperatures plummet below zero on Christmas Day. In New York City, the coldest temperature recorded on Christmas is minus 1 degree, set in 1980, while the record in Boston is minus 7 degrees, set that same year.

(MORE: White Christmas Forecast)

South

Below-zero temperatures have been recorded on Christmas Day in the South. Nashville recorded a low of minus 5 degrees in 1983. Atlanta almost saw a subzero reading that year with a low of 0 degrees, and highs in Nashville and Atlanta only topped out in the teens.

In fact, most of the record lows set on Christmas Day in larger cities in the South occurred in 1983. This includes Raleigh, Charlotte and Dallas, where lows in the single digits were observed.

Charleston, South Carolina, and Houston also saw the coldest low on Christmas in 1983 – 11 degrees. The coldest high temperature on Christmas in Charleston and Houston was observed that same day when temperatures failed to reach the freezing mark, with highs of 27 and 28 degrees, respectively.

(MORE: When Is the Coldest Time of the Year?)

Temperatures have even plunged below freezing in Miami on Christmas. A bit farther north, the coldest high on record in Orlando is 36 degrees and the record low for the day is 21 degrees, both set in 1983.

Midwest

Brutally cold temperatures have been experienced in the north-central U.S., with the mercury tumbling far below zero on Christmas. In Minnesota, both Minneapolis and International Falls have seen lows in the minus 30s on Dec. 25. The record low in Minneapolis dates to 1879, while International Falls set its record of minus 37 degrees in 1996.

Fargo, North Dakota, has a record low for the date of minus 31 degrees. All three of these cities have the coldest high temperature on record for Christmas in the minus 10s.

Farther east, the coldest lows and highs on record were set in 1983 in St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and Cleveland, and range from minus 10 in Cleveland and Detroit to minus 17 in Chicago. High temperatures that year reached just 7 degrees in St. Louis and minus 4 in Indianapolis.

One of the “warmer” cities in the region is Louisville, Kentucky, which set its record low of minus 7 degrees for Christmas in 1983. Its coldest high for the day is 8 degrees, set that same year.

West

The northern Rockies have seen low temperatures drop into the minus 20s on Christmas, including Great Falls, Montana, which set its record low of minus 29 in 1983. Its coldest high temperature is minus 9 degrees, which occurred in 1934. The record low is a tad warmer in Boise, Idaho – minus 20 degrees, set in 1990, while the record coldest high temperature here is 1 degree, set in 1924.

Salt Lake City and Denver both have record lows in the minus 10s, set in the 1870s. The coldest maximum temperature for Christmas Day in Denver is 10 degrees, and in Salt Lake City, it’s 13 degrees.

Closer to the West Coast, the coldest temperatures recorded on Christmas in Seattle and Portland are 24 and 19 degrees, respectively. San Francisco dropped to 35 degrees on Christmas in 1990, while the record low in Los Angeles is 30 degrees, set in 1879.

Even Phoenix and Las Vegas have seen very chilly conditions on Christmas. The record low in Las Vegas for the day is 17 degrees, set in 1948, and in Phoenix, it’s 27 degrees, set in 1953. The record coldest high temperatures in both cities are in the 40s.

(MORE: Your Typically Snowiest Month)

As expected, the coldest readings on Christmas in the U.S. are in Alaska, where Fairbanks observed a brutally cold record low of minus 56 degrees. This was experienced in 1961, and the high that Christmas was minus 50. Anchorage also set a record for its coldest Christmas that year with a low of minus 25.

In contrast, in Hawaii, the coldest temperatures observed on Christmas Day are 59 degrees in Honolulu and 58 in Hilo. The coldest high temperature on record in both cities is 70 degrees – quite the difference compared to the rest of the U.S., where even Miami and Los Angeles have seen highs on Christmas Day as low as 51 degrees.

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