The Coldest December to Ever Whip Through Wisconsin

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: December 4, 2023
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Wisconsin is a state that can get very hot in the summer and can get extremely cold during the winter.  Wisconsin can get snow storms every winter and Wisconsinites are used to this. If you ever find yourself in the state of Wisconsin during a snowstorm and you’re not from there, you will be in for a wild ride. But of course, the snowstorms are not the only problem. The state may not get snow storms but it will get extremely cold weather. 

Let’s examine the coldest December to ever whip through Wisconsin. We’ll give you all the details about the coldest December and also give you other cold Decembers throughout the state’s history.

December 2013

Winter season landscape view of a park in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

The coldest December ever recorded was in Medford, WI with a jaw-dropping -31 degrees Fahrenheit in 1933.

©Aaron of L.A. Photography/

December 2013 started with pleasant weather. The first few days had sun and relatively good weather, comparatively to other Novembers and Decembers in years past. But all of a sudden things changed. The temperatures dropped drastically and throughout the month there were snow storms that seemed to never stop. In fact, the state got over 20 inches of snow just that December. The rest of the winter wasn’t so great either and had record snow as well.

Wisconsin’s capital, Madison, experienced below-zero temperatures for 10 days during the month. Other cities throughout the state also experienced atrocious weather. Green Bay, WI had average temperatures of 15 degrees throughout the month and its snowfall had an average of 26 inches throughout December.

It was a polar vortex that hit Wisconsin and the other states in the region. The cold air traveled down from the Arctic to the region, plummeted it with snow, and covered it with extreme temperatures. The winter was so bad that the Great Lakes were frozen. Airports had huge delays because of the freezing temperatures. Although December was bad, the weather was worse in February 2014 with a bad nor’easter. 

Other Cold Decembers

Ski resort in the winter at Wisconsin.

The city of Rhinelander, WI experienced a whopping -25 degree weather on December 30, 2013.


The December 2013 cold temperatures weren’t the only cold ones that the state of Wisconsin has suffered through. Other cold Decembers have happened over the years. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  • La Crosse, WI experienced their coldest Christmas temperature in 1879 and 2000 with a whopping -26 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Madison, WI experienced one of its coldest Decembers on December 24, 1872, with a horrible -28 degrees Fahrenheit.


winter landscape

The month of December 2013 brought in over 20 inches of snow.


And there you have it, the coldest December to ever whip through Wisconsin was the winter of 2013-2014. Of course, there are colder days like the one Medford, WI experienced in 1933 with a whopping -31 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Day. However, when we’re talking about the entire month, it’s important to figure out all of the temperatures combined to ensure you have the most accurate analysis. The coldest December that happened in Wisconsin was in 2013 because most of the month had below-zero temperatures.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Michael Tatman/ via Getty Images

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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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