Top 5 States With The Most Miserable Winters

Wintertime is a tough season for many of us, especially those of us who dread all things cold and snowy.

Even in traditionally warm weather states (think Arizona and Florida), temperatures tend to drop to lower-than-before numbers during this season of cold—places that might usually be 80 °F are suffering through 50 °F weather.

Medora, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Medora, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I’ve ranked the states that experience the worst winters. Didn’t make the list? Then check out the conditions in these five states before complaining about last night’s snow dusting. Hey, you might even change your tune about your local weather a little. (Probably not, but it’s worth a shot.)

Anyway, feel free to indicate all the ways this list is invalid. I’ll just be hanging out in our warm-weather snowbird roost.

Tip: You can also use this list as a cheat sheet of places to avoid between November and April, if you’re smart (and um, don’t already live there).

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So which state “won” the honor of being the worst place to spend winter? Sorry, Minnesota. This is the only time that being #1 is really not that great.

Brutal, right? They didn’t hold back with the rest of the top 5 states—listed below—either.

#5. Maine

New England strikes again. This time with a much chillier vengeance. Living in Massachusetts, you still love to complain about the tough winters, but whenever someone brings up the weather in Maine (a few states north), it’s like they all hang their heads in silence.

Maine winters are notoriously brutal, with snow up to your ears. Literally. The average snowfall in the Northern interior, closest to Canada, is about 110 inches. And these winters are LONG, typically starting in November or even October and not stopping until April, some years.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But the funny thing is, most people in Maine LOVE this weather. I guess you have to if you’re going to live there, but they truly love the idea of skiing and snowboarding for months on end. They really just have a great attitude about their semi-permanent deep freeze.

I don’t get it, but more power to ’em.

#4. North Dakota

Ah, here we are. The chillier of the two Dakotas. I can’t help but wonder if these two states are always in competition with one another, and if so, is it a good thing or a bad thing North beat out South for the coldest winter temps?

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Like South Dakota, North Dakota gets extremely dry and hot in the summer, up to 121 °F. That temperature can flip the other way, too, reaching –5 °F many days. The average however, is a cool 21 °F. Still below freezing, but not quite as bad as those occasional deep freezes.

#3. Alaska

No, duh. If we all think of one thing when we imagine Alaska it’s without a doubt snow, snow, and more snow. This classically frozen state doesn’t just experience shorter days and bad boughs of cold weather—the residents of this state deal with 67 straight days of no sunlight and temperatures that average –20 °F in some places.

Living in Alaska is a completely different lifestyle than probably any other state on this or any other list; it’s a complete immersion with nature and a good bit of isolation, too. It’s a rugged lifestyle only meant for people who WANT to live this way. So before you go judging their state, consider that a lot of Alaskan natives love where they live.

Why, I’m not personally sure, but you know, good for them.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

#2. Michigan

So if you can beat Alaska on this list, something is seriously wrong. This might be for a few different reasons: maybe it’s that the average wintertime temp in Michigan is approximately 17 °F or that the average snowfall can reach up to 202 inches in some parts of the state.

But we think Michigan is probably #2 on this horrendous list because of how dang long their winters are. In Michigan, you kind of skip fall almost, because winter starts long before Thanksgiving. And when does it end, you ask? The short answer is never, but the longer answer is usually in the weeks following Easter, which makes for four-to-six wearisome months of always-gray, always-cold, always-drizzly, but-rarely-snowy-in-a-good-way misery.

Some other states may see colder temps or more snow, but Michigan winters are unrivaled for their utter lack of sunshine. The ceaseless cloud cover begins in October, and envelopes the state in a daily sense of gloom that only worsens when the apathetic sun slouches below the horizon at quarter-to-five.

North Dakota Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

North Dakota Welcome Center © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

#1. Minnesota

And, finally, the winner of our most miserable winters list: Minnesota. To have topped all the horror stories preceding it, you must be thinking Minnesota has it pretty rough. I’m not going to disagree with you, these winters are some of the most brutal I’ve ever heard of.

The reason is most likely because Minnesota gets hit with the worst mix of meteorological downfalls imaginable. Winter weather patterns like Alberta clippers and panhandle hooks are common in Minnesota, bringing almost constant snow that piles well over 200 inches in some regions of the state and makes winter last at least five months.

Five months. At least. That’s almost half the year, friends. Almost as long as winters in Alberta.

Pronghorn antelope © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pronghorn antelope © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To top it off, the temperatures aren’t friendly either; temps can usually hit -60 °F, at which frostbite can occur in fewer than five minutes. Now think about THAT the next time you whine that it’s only 55 °F outside and you have to wear a coat.

Worth Pondering…

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.
―Carl Reiner

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