Discover the Coldest Place in Maryland

© iStock.com/MichaelFrancis

Written by Colby Maxwell

Updated: February 23, 2023

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Key Points:
  • Located in Garrett County, McHenry sits at an elevation of 2,800 feet in the Appalachian range.
  • The coldest recorded temperature in Maryland was over 100 years ago on January 13, 1912, in Oakland, Maryland–an astounding -40°!
  • On average, Maryland receives 20.6 inches of snowfall each season.

Maryland is the most northern state south of the Mason-Dixon line, officially designating it as a southern state. With such a designation, most people don’t think about Maryland as a cold place; but they would be mistaken! Maryland can get downright frigid, as we are going to find out today. Let’s discover the coldest place in Maryland, plus learn a bit about the weather in the state. For anyone who isn’t a native, these numbers may be a bit surprising! Let’s get started.

The Coldest Place in Maryland

The town of McHenry, located in the Appalachian Mountains, is the coldest place in the state of Maryland.

There is a bit of debate as to the official coldest place in Maryland, but many people, native Marylanders included, consider McHenry to be the coldest city in the state. Located in Garrett County, McHenry is situated at the northernmost tip of Deep Creek Lake and sits at an elevation of 2,800 feet in the Appalachian range. With an average low temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit and average winter temperatures of 24 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service, McHenry is significantly colder than neighboring Oakland, which has an average low of 37 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even with its cold temperatures, McHenry has a small population of only 1,328 people as of 2012. It is a popular tourist destination due to its proximity to the lake and the surrounding natural beauty of the Appalachian mountains. The cold temperatures and high elevation make it an ideal location for winter sports such as skiing and ice skating.

The other contenders for the coldest spot in the state include Frederick (according to Crown Science), and Oakland (according to Cheapism). The reason for all the debate usually has to do with how you classify the coldest place. For our purposes, the lowest average temperature is what we are considering the coldest, although Oakland does have the coldest singular temperature.

McHenry is the coldest city in Maryland

McHenry is the coldest city in Maryland and a popular ski destination.

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The Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Maryland

The coldest recorded temperature in Maryland was over 100 years ago on January 13, 1912, in Oakland, a town located in the west-central part of Garrett County, Maryland. On that day, the temperature dropped to an astounding -40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is truly frigid even by the standards of the coldest parts of the country. The temperature was recorded by a U.S. Weather Bureau reader named Ralph E. Weber, who was based in Oakland at the time.

Oakland is a small town with a population of just 1,925 according to the 2010 United States Census. Despite its small size, Oakland is an important place in Maryland, serving as the county seat of Garrett County and being located within the Pittsburgh DMA. The town is located only a few miles from the source of the Potomac River, which flows directly into the Chesapeake Bay, and is also near the Wisp Resort at Deep Creek Lake, a popular ski resort for many Marylanders and visitors from other states.

Maryland can get frigid during winter

Though Maryland is considered a southern state it can get quite frigid during winter.

©iStock.com/golaizola

The Unique Geography and Climate of Maryland

There are several factors that contribute to the climate in Maryland. The most important of these include the distribution of land and water masses, mountain barriers, topographic features, semi-permanent pressure systems, and the prevailing winds at both the surface and higher altitudes.

Storm tracks, including tropical and extratropical cyclones, also play a role, as do latitude, altitude, and ocean currents. The land mass to the north and west of Maryland creates a continental climate in the region, which is characterized by the four seasons many on the eastern coast are familiar with.

Additionally, the coastal half of the state is heavily influenced by the ocean, while the western half is less so. The Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland remain cold, but the western half gets even colder and has a lot more snow each season.

All of these factors work together to create the diverse and varied climate found in Maryland.

Baltimore, Maryland harbor in the snow

The weather in the coastal half of Maryland is heavily influenced by the ocean.

©iStock.com/sand86

How Much Snow Does Maryland Get?

On average, Maryland receives 20.6 inches of snowfall each season. However, this amount can vary significantly depending on location, with some areas receiving as little as 10 inches on the lower Eastern Shore, while others can get as much as 110 inches in Garrett County.

The most snowfall ever recorded in a single winter in Maryland was during the winter of 2009-10, when 262.5 inches fell at Keysers Ridge in Garrett County. Overall, Maryland’s snowfall can vary significantly depending on location and year, so it is important for residents and visitors to be prepared for a range of possible snowfall amounts.

Coldest vs Hottest Place in Maryland

Now that we know the coldest place in Maryland, what do you think is the hottest location? The town of Cambridge, located on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, has the hottest temperatures, averaging an annual high of 69° F. The highest temperature ever recorded in Maryland was in the town of Cumberland on July 10, 1936. The thermometer hit 109° that sweltering day!


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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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