(NEXSTAR) – It’s a title that nobody is going to brag about, but residents of Amarillo can claim they live in the coldest big city in Texas, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
That distinction doesn’t mean it’s all that frigid in Amarillo relative to other U.S. cities. In fact, NOAA data compiled by Stacker identified the coldest cities in all 50 states and found that Texas doesn’t even crack the top 150 coldest cities in America. Of the 266 studied, 171 have a colder average temperature.
Still, with a 30-year average of 57.3 degrees, the High Plains can get quite a bit chillier than other parts of Texas. The mean temperature in Houston over the last year was 70.5 degrees, according to federal data. Last year the average temperature in the Dallas area was 68.2 degrees, according to NOAA.
“Amarillo is undoubtedly the coldest (big) city in Texas. The coldest temperature on record is -12 back in 1986. However, just two years ago we came close to tying this dubious record with a low of -11 on Feb. 15, 2021,” said KAMR chief meteorologist John Harris.
Geography and the resulting climate are what sets Amarillo apart.
“We are located farther north than any other city in Texas. We do see all 4 seasons up here in the Panhandle,” said Harris, who points to low humidity driving down nighttime temperatures, particularly in winter.
That low humidity can be a real benefit in the warmer months.
“Less humidity makes the 90s more tolerable since we don’t typically have a heat index per se,” he said. “We see beautiful sunrises and sunsets, almost year-round, because of less clouds.”
According to the figures compiled by Stacker, Amarillo sees an average daily maximum temp of 70.9 degrees and an average daily minimum of 43.8 degrees. That’s a wider and warmer range than the coldest city in other big states like California, Illinois and New York.
Though not included in the study, Harris said the distinction of overall “coldest city in Texas” probably goes to Dalhart, located roughly 80 miles northwest of Amarillo. On Jan. 4, 1959 the town recorded a low temperature of -21 degrees.
The coldest city in the U.S. is Utqiaġvik (formerly known as Barrow), Alaska, according to the Stacker report. The average daily temperature there is 11.7 degrees.