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State Weather Extremes

State Weather Extremes

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What we were interested in was the most livable places vs the most extreme areas. For example, in Utah, we can experience anything from 20 below to 114 degrees or a range of 134 degrees during a annual basis. We were curious how that compared with other areas, where the lowest range existed and where the most extreme range occurs. What I would like to know is where in the continental United States would we find the most extreme in temperature range and along with that, where the least extreme temperature range is located? Jeff S.


The state of Utah has some seriously varied weather, we also have a ton of land! Clearly, 400 miles north to south will have major differences from a place say like Vermont or New Hampshire which around 150 miles long. However, those little states can have big variances in weather too, going down to well below zero in the winter and up to 100 in the summer, rare but it happens.

We can access records for coldest and warmest for each state first and this shows us that the coldest day in Utah was -69 degrees in Peter Sink on February 1, 1985. The warmest day was 117 in St. George that same year but in July. So the difference here for the state extreme is 186 degrees! WOAH!

But extremes don't happen everyday, so what Jeff is asking, which other states have such on average, a wide variance of weather. For this, we need to look at climate data.

The least extreme variance of weather is probably Hawaii or somewhere like Florida. There are of course, places in Hawaii where it gets very cold like on top some of their big mountains. But if you're living in Honolulu, average highs range from 82 to 89 degrees the whole year, not a lot of variability.

The other states that will have massive amount of variability like our own are states that are also big. California would be one where in Death Valley, the average high in January is 65 but in July it's 116!!! Montana is another state with big swings, average highs in the winter around 39 and the summer around 83. They can also have the same variability that we do, getting to -20 in the winter and over 100 in the summer.

So your question is complicated, there are many states that have big ranges in temperature just like we do and MANY factors on why. State size and terrain has a big part of it. We in Utah have enormous mountains but also stretch into the southern desert so we get a lot more variability annually than most other places.

The least extreme temperature range is likely Hawaii. In the continental US, the least extreme then would likely be Florida. The states with probably the biggest annual swings are likely Utah, New Mexico, Montana and maybe Idaho. Although an honorable mention probably to Maine where every few years they have a winter with lows in the -30 range and then highs in the summer into the 90's or around 100. So swings there are also common.

Sorry there's not a more clear cut answer on this one, if you really wanted, you could find the states average high and low by state and figure out which ones have the widest range. But then again, you are taking in whole sized states and they are all so different in terrain.

Answered by KSL Meteorologist Dina Freedman.

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