The 2019 polar vortex brought bone-chilling temperatures to the Midwest—Milwaukee hit 21 below zero, Detroit shivered in minus 14 degrees, and Chicago experienced a chilly 23 below zero. But those temperatures seem almost balmy compared with the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States. On January 23, 1971, the mercury dropped to a staggering minus 80 degrees in Prospect Creek, Alaska.
Within the 48 contiguous states, the record for extreme cold was set on January 20, 1954, when Rogers Pass, Montana, hit a better-wear-an-extra-sweater temperature of 70 degrees below zero. But if you want to completely escape temperatures in the negatives, you'll need to move to Hawaii, the only state that has never experienced sub-zero temperatures. The Mauna Kea Observatory on the big island of Hawaii recorded the state's coldest-ever temperature of 12 degrees in 1979.