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4 U.S. Cities With the Most Extreme Weather
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June 1, 2019
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Lee Ridley
I'm a freelance writer and editor who's written for a variety of industries, but areas of specialty include luxury travel, health and wellness. I am the owner of Ridley Creative Communications, LLC.
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Many U.S. cities experience extreme temperatures, sometimes changing as much as 50 or even 65 degrees in a day. The honor for the hottest place ever recorded in the U.S. goes to Death Valley, California, with a whopping temperature of 134° F recorded in 1913. You’ll find the coldest place in the U.S. in the tiny northern Alaska town of Prospect Creek — temps fell to -80° F in 1971. The following four cities can claim some of the largest temperature variations within a year.

Waterloo, Iowa

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The Midwest experiences some of the greatest temperature variations between winter and summer. In Waterloo, Iowa, you’ll see temperature differences averaging about 57.5 degrees. Winter temps average 10° F to 27° F and summer highs reach the mid-80s. Waterloo residences enjoy a recently revitalized downtown area along the Cedar River that includes a riverwalk trail, plaza, splash pad, amphitheater, DekHockey rink, shopping, dining, cultural entertainment and nightlife. You can tour the John Deere factory here, which builds large and small tractors, farm equipment, lawnmowers and more. Guided tours will take you through each step of the manufacturing process, from the first steel cut to the final product.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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Head to Sioux Falls, which sees annual temperature differences averaging 59 degrees. Winter temps range from 7° F to 26° F, with summers reaching comfortable highs in the low 80s. Named for the falls along the Big Sioux River that flow through the city, Sioux Falls is home to the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS (Earth Resources Observation and Science) Data Center. In contrast to modern satellite-image processing, you’ll find ancient Native American ceremonial burial grounds dating back 1,600 years in the South Dakota town. If you happen to visit in late summer, you can attend one of the U.S.’s largest outdoor music festivals, the LifeLight Festival.

St. Cloud, Minnesota

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Minnesotans must become accustomed to extreme low temps in the winter, seeing some of the coldest temperatures of any place in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Fifteen of the top eighteen cities with the greatest temperature differences are found in Minnesota. Annual temperature variations average 61 degrees in St. Cloud, a small city in central Minnesota located at the junction of the Sauk and Mississippi rivers. St. Cloud residents experience average winter lows between 2° F and 18° F. By summer, temps increase to a comfortable 82° F. If you happen to visit during the warmer summer months, be sure to visit the beautiful Munsinger and Clemens Gardens, which overlook the Mississippi River.

Fargo, North Dakota

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Long before the 1996 blockbuster film Fargo hit cinemas, North Dakota’s largest city was famous for topping the list for the broadest annual temperature differences of any U.S. city — 63.8 degrees. Fargo residents must bundle up in January, with lows averaging around 0° F and highs only about 18° F. However, come July, residents are able to head out in shorts and t-shirts with highs in the low 80s. If you’re a fan of the movie, you can have your picture taken with the actual wood chipper used in the infamous murder scene at the Fargo Moorhead Visitor Center.