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20 Cities with the Worst Weather in the U.S.

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It’s easy to assume that the states that have the worst weather are the ones that have bad winters or extreme temperatures. Yet weather has many extremes and uncomfortable, unsafe, or even deadly situations. Keep reading to learn about the top 20 cities with the worst weather in the United States.

Weather Extremes for the Worst Weather Cities

Not all cities with the worst weather are on this list for ice and snow. They can have:

While meteorologists do their best to predict weather trends and patterns, mother nature can always have surprises in store. The more extreme the event, the less tolerable the weather can be in any city.

Cites with the Worst Weather in the United States

20. Hilo, Hawaii

Rainy days can be lovely, especially when they end with a rainbow. But looking forward to the next rainfall is hard when you live in a place with an average of 277 days of rain yearly. That means a scant 88 days that might be rain-free!

You’ll have to deal with intense humidity when averaging around 128 in. of rain annually. If you’ve spent any time in humid conditions, then you know that it can be sticky and uncomfortable. It can be dangerous for people who have compromised respiratory function, too.

New Orleans

19. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans brings some more moisture onto the list! It rains enough to warrant a look at the city’s 20 years with the most precipitation on NOLA news.

With an average of over 60 inches of rain that often comes with humidity, this city keeps it hot and sticky. Air conditioning is a must for those who can use it.

New Orleans must also deal with major events, including hurricanes and tornadoes. Rain and extreme weather events make this city great to visit but a challenge to live in.

Seattle

18. Seattle, Washington

People need sun for physical and mental health, which is why Seattle makes this list. This city gets an average of about 147 days of rain each year. The Seattle Times even writes about how the darker, cloudy days bring on Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Dampness can also aggravate asthma and other breathing issues. Anyone who needs dry, temperate air may not find it here.

Seattle doesn’t typically have excessive heat or cold, which can help battle some darker, wetter days. However, anyone who loves the sunshine and values the benefits of being able to head out without so much dampness might want to steer clear of spending a long time in this city.

Syracuse, New York

17. Syracuse, New York

New York has so much more to it than its famous namesake city, including some cities located up by Lake Ontario. Syracuse is known for its university and sports teams, but it’s also freezing in winter and a favorite place for the great lake to blanket in moisture.

The city sees an average of 171 days of rainfall and just over 111 inches of snow yearly. Even though many days are estimated to be covered in white, cloud cover can negatively impact a person’s well-being. It’s also a lot of snow to be removed over time.

Temperatures can also be extreme in this city. Extreme Weather Watch has a recorded high temperature of 102 degrees in 1936 and a low of -26 degrees in 1979.

16. Ironwood, Michigan

Unless you love snow and have your own snow plow, Ironwood may not be the place for you. This city gets an average snowfall of about 188 inches per year. That comes out to be over 15 feet of snow per winter season.

The cold temperatures are enough to keep most people inside by a warm fire. Residents must deal with about four months of temperatures that stay below freezing.

15. Bullhead City, Arizona

Extreme heat is what brings this city to the list! Imagine an average of 129 days yearly with a temperature of more than 99 degrees. In fact, the city recorded a high temperature of 129 degrees as recently as 2017. You can check the Mohave Valley Daily News for past and present temperature extremes.

San Francisco

14. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has wonderfully moderate temperatures throughout the year, but it isn’t enough for many to put up with frequent flooding problems. In fact, CBS News has reported on both the flooding and wildfires as they happen in the city. These two extremes can make life in this otherwise ideal location scary.

Tampa

13. Tampa, Florida

According to Current Results, Tampa is the city with the most thunderstorms in the U.S. If you know anything about thunderstorms, the power of the rain can be damaging, and the electricity of the lighting can be destructive and deadly. In fact, Travel a Lot reports an average of 10 deaths and 30 injuries per year due to these storms.

If the thunderstorms aren’t scary enough, Tampa does have the potential to be hit by hurricanes each year. While the city isn’t directly on these storm paths, they have frequent flooding and power outages if nearby cities are hit.

Rochester, NY

12. Rochester, NY

Rochester is in a similar situation as Syracuse. They are both located near Lake Ontario and tend to have similar weather extremes. However, Rochester does edge out Syracuse with its unpredictability.

Weather.gov says summers in Rochester are hot and humid, with occasional thunderstorm events. The sun shines generously during this time, almost as if anticipating the coming months filled with clouds and precipitation.

When a large portion of your population leaves your city for four to five months before returning for more temperate weather, you have extreme weather. If you want to miss out on up to 120 inches of snow in the area, you’ll need a second home or to go on an extended vacation.

Houston

11. Houston, Texas

Even though this city is pretty close to the equator, it’s becoming known as a top city with extreme weather conditions. The average temperature is pretty hot, hovering daily in the high 80’s. High heat and air conditioning costs have made Houston a tough city for anyone to live in and be comfortable in.

The city has also had its share of weather events like tornados and snowstorms. Some of these have caused significant problems, including a complete power grid failure in early 2021, as The University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute documented.

10. Bismarck, North Dakota

Bismark is another city with cold temperatures severe enough to make this list. On the days the temperatures plummet to as low as -45 degrees, staying inside is safer than going out. You may also have to deal with some of the average 51 inches of snow yearly.

Once you’ve just started to feel like winter is ending, the people in Bismarck have to start thinking about tornadoes. The city saw five tornadoes in and around the area back in 2000.

In addition to tornados, the population often combats heavy air due to wildfires coming from the west in the U.S. and Canada. While some love the area and wouldn’t dream of living elsewhere, Bismarck’s challenges can be too much for some.

OK City

9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

When you have to ensure you have the best coverage for your home insurance policy due to frequent tornadoes, you might want to reconsider living in Oklahoma City. Every documented year from 1893 all the way through to 2021 can be viewed on the Weather.gov website.

You can always build or install a storm shelter if you’re determined to spend time in Oklahoma City. Make sure you think hard about it before deciding to live in a city that’s made The Washington Post’s cities with the most extreme weather list in 2021.

Buffalo

8. Buffalo, New York

Anyone who requires sun daily would not like living in Buffalo! Even with over 300 partly cloudy days, the sun can be hit or miss when people are working or can’t step out to catch some rays.

The city sits right alongside Lake Erie, so precipitation is an issue for residents, especially during the cold winter. A post on the WYRK 106.5 website cites National Weather Service reports and the top 10 years of snowfall the city’s experienced on record. It’s worth a look to see when they had 199.4 inches of snow in a single year.

7. Marquette, Michigan

When you’re known as one of the snowiest places in the U.S., your city will only appeal to a small portion of the population. The average snowfall for this city is around 157 inches making a plow a must-have unless you can pay someone to do it for you.

If you love snow but are not fond of rain, you’ll have to contend with an average of 32 inches annually. This can lead to some pretty long, cloudy days, no matter the season.

6. Barrow, Alaska

The cold is the hardest thing about living in or visiting Barrow, Alaska. Temperatures can plummet to below zero, so extra measures must be taken to stay safe if you head outside. Located a mere 1,300 miles from the North Pole, these temperatures keep the area super-cold and dry.

5. Caribou, Maine

If you love precipitation, Caribou has it all – rain, sleet, hail, and snow appear throughout the seasons. June, July, and August are the mildest and warmest, making it a great vacationing time.

Locals know they’ll have up to seven months of cold, snowy, or damp weather after that. This can include wind gusts and sub-zero temperatures during the winter season.

4. Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo has taken extremes in temperatures pretty seriously. The highest temperature recorded was 114 degrees in 1936. The coldest recorded temperature was -39 degrees in 1996.

Precipitation in the area isn’t as extreme as in some other cities on this list, but it’s the aftermath of snowfall, typically in the spring. As the snow and ice melt, they tend to cause localized flooding. Unfortunately, since there’s no real way to predict the amount of precipitation and melting, residents struggle year after year with flooding.

Fairbanks

3. Fairbanks, Alaska

Alaska has some fantastic cities to live in, but some of them, like Fairbanks, can have weather that’s too extreme for many. The summer months are pleasant, with highs in the 70s to mid-80s, where residents and visitors enjoy outdoor activities.

The snowy season lasts around 9 months, meaning the warm season lasts about 3 months. The lows for the area can get down to around -15 degrees, making it difficult to catch your breath when you step outside. While snowfall is at an average of 61 inches per year, the length of the cold and snowy season makes Fairbanks one of the worst weather cities in America.

Santa Cruz

2. Santa Cruz, California

It would be easy to only include cold, snowy cities on a worst weather list, but other elements can make snow seem not that bad. Santa Cruz has been battling wildfires for a long time. In fact, their record keeping for wildfires goes back to 1932.

In addition to the fires, Santa Cruz has to battle flooding, mudslides, and even earthquakes. Not only do all of the natural events cost the city’s residents millions of dollars to combat, but the fear of such events is also constant for many people.

Temperatures are moderate and comfortable throughout most of the year. While measurable snow is rare, residents see an average of 33 inches of rain annually. This can contribute to floods and mudslides, making the city a temperate but unpredictable place to live.

1. Sitka, Alaska

On average, Sitka gets only 84 days of sun per year. That means that residents have 281 days without any sun.

Since the city is so cloudy, they get snow, rain, sleet, and hail throughout the year. According to BestPlaces.net, the city receives an average of 120 inches of rain annually. It also sees around 44 inches of snow per year.

Summer temperatures are at around 61 degrees. This may seem chilly for some but perfect for others.

The average low of about 31 degrees might surprise some, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t get colder now and then. Nighttime lows are known to go down to the single digits.

Remember that Sitka also has days during the year when the sun sets as early as 3pm. Between the cloudiness and limited daylight hours, cool temperatures, and precipitation in Sitka, it’s not a location with much weather appeal.

Love Your City Whether You Love the Weather or Not

You can count yourself lucky if your city didn’t make this list! And if yours did, you should be proud. Not only do you live in an area with some of the worst weather in the state, but you also stick it out and continue to call it home!

No matter where you live, there will occasionally be some undesirable or unpleasant weather. Ensure you’re prepared for the conditions you’re likely to experience in your area. Once you’re set, rest easy, knowing you’re as prepared as possible.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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