Wisconsin December 29, 2018
Here Are The 11 Coldest, Snowiest Towns In Wisconsin
Up here in the Great White North, we experience winter like few other spots. There’s a reason folks call this “The Frozen Tundra.” The effects of both Great Lakes add to our location here in the upper Midwest to create some of the coldest, snowiest spots in the whole country. Some of our cities are considered colder than places in Alaska! Life in Wisconsin is for the hale and hearty. Here, in no particular order, are some of the cities and towns that rank way up there for coldest and snowiest in the whole country:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. La Crosse
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tracks daily temperatures tracked over a 30-year period to define the normal high and low temperatures for every month for over 250 cities. Using that date, La Crosse is the 15th coldest city in the nation — ranking seven spots ahead of Anchorage, Alaska! They average single digits in the winter month, have registered a day as cold as -37° F, and experience 10 mph winds. All that, and they see about four feet of snow a year!
Hurley gets a whopping 162.2" of snow each and every winter. It's about 18 miles from Lake Superior in what is known as the South Shore snow belt. Lake effect snow is real and constant in Hurley. It's not just snow — Hurley is also darn cold. In an average year, the temperature drops below 32 °F (0 °C) on 192 days, and below 0 °F (-17.8 °C) on 40 days. In 2014, Marathon County reported that Hurley was home to the greatest monthly total snowfall in state history, 103.5 inches in January 1997 as well as the greatest seasonal total, 301.8 inches in winter of 1996-97 and the deepest snow on the ground (excluding drifts), 60.0 inches on Jan. 30, 1996.
3. Eau Claire
Eau Claire sees snow about 40 days per year and that snow adds up to nearly four feet of total precipitation. Those are averages, though. This city is known to get dumped on. The largest snowfall in Eau Claire history was on December 11, 2010, when 22 inches fell on the city in 24 hours!
The 24th coldest city in the country, Madison also seems to lead the way in snowfall in the southern part of the state, seeing at least 50 inches over the course of 40 snowy days. The southern location means their coldest month averages 11° F, but the coldest temp on record is still a frosty -37° F.
There aren't a lot of folks in Wisconsin who are unfamiliar with the concept of lake-effect snow since so much of our borders are affected. Superior gets sheltered from the worst of it on the corner of Lake Superior, though they don't escape it all. It tends to snow on fewer days up here — they average snowfall on just 26 days — but when it comes, it isn't light. They still have an average yearly snowfall of 56 inches.
6. Lone Rock
"The coldest in the nation with the warmest heart." This small town just west of Spring Green in the wide open area along the Wisconsin River gets hit with high winds and blowing snow, but their claim to fame is registering the coldest temperature in the country on January 30, 1951, when a reading of minus 53 degrees at the Tri-County Airport was officially the coldest spot in the nation. Temperatures were so low that night that the official U.S. Weather Bureau thermometer couldn’t handle the actual reading. The instrument was made to measure temperatures down to minus 47.
7. Green Bay
Wisconsin's first city doesn't get the protection that you might think life on the bay might afford it. Colder than most every city in the country, Green Bay sits just behind La Crosse as the 16th coldest spot in the US. They see normal lows in the single digits with annual average snowfall of 50 inches. The lowest temp ever on record here is -36° F. They're the snowiest eastern city in Wisconsin, as well, seeing snow on 40 days per year.
Wausau is pretty much the snowiest northern town that doesn't receive lake-effect snow from Lake Superior. They have at least 50 snowy days each winter that add up to five feet of the white stuff on the ground, on average. With Rib Mountain and a ton of other natural areas, this is a great spot for skiing and snow-shoeing.
Wausau sees snow way more often than Drummond, but when it comes to accumulation in the Northwoods, Drummond takes the cake. These folks average more than 70 inches of snowfall over 30 snowy days each winter. It snows less often, but when it does, it's no joke!
The effects of Lake Michigan helps keep Milwaukee a bit warmer than the rest of the state, but it's still one of the top 50 coldest cities in the country. Compared to the other Wisconsin towns on the list, it registers a balmy 15.6° F as the normal low and the coldest temp here is still 10 degrees warmer than the other Wisconsin spots, though I'm not sure it matters when you're talking 20 or 30-below — it's just really freaking cold. Winds tend to be stronger here and they'll still see four feet of snow each season with 35 or more snowy days.
This town on a peninsula is not nearly as protected as nearby Superior and gets the brunt of all the worst parts of Lake Superior effect winter. These poor folks see snow on more than 60 days per year and it totals more than 100 inches of snowfall!
Do you live in any of these cold, snowy towns? What do you love and hate about winter in Wisconsin? Let us know in the comments!
If you’re looking for things to do with the family this winter,
check out this awesome list of stuff that gets you out and about and away from the masses at the mall.