Discover the Coldest Place in South Dakota

Written by Megan Martin
Published: December 30, 2022
© Jacob Boomsma/
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Named after the Lakota and Dakota nations, South Dakota is a popular midwestern state thanks to it being the home of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. While your mind may not first stray to the weather when it comes to this state, do you know about the climate? What about the coldest place in South Dakota?

If you don’t quite know the answer to these questions, don’t worry. You’ll find all the answers, and more, below! Ready to learn more about the local climate and the coldest place in South Dakota? Let’s dive in. 

Average Climate in South Dakota

Typically, you’ll find what is known as a continental climate in South Dakota. The state has four easily distinguished seasons with hot summers and cold winters. In the summer, the average high can reach up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. While it can cool to as low as 60 degrees at night, South Dakota is still no stranger to long, dry heat spells during these months. The winter average sits well below freezing, with many parts of the state sitting at an average winter temperature of around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. 

As far as precipitation goes, South Dakota receives anywhere from 15 to 30 inches of precipitation each year. The northwestern part of the state is known to have a semi-arid climate, resulting in less precipitation than further south. Lead, South Dakota, a small town situated in the Black Hills, receives the most.  

With a large portion of the state being a part of Tornado Valley, South Dakota receives several tornados each year. In fact, on average, they receive around 30. As for other severe weather, ice storms and blizzards are common in the winter months. 

This weather allows for a variety of animals to live in the state, from the state’s mammal, the coyote, to the state fish, the walleye. You’ll also find rare animals like the black-footed ferret. This is the only species of ferret native to North America

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
South Dakota is a popular midwestern state thanks to it being the home of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.

© Jennings

What is the Coldest Place in South Dakota?

No stranger to blizzards and ice, there are many cold places in this state. However, the coldest place in South Dakota is none other than Aberdeen, known as Ablíla to the Lakota. Although the entire state frequently sees cold temperatures, few of them sit at freezing as Aberdeen does. The average winter low for this town is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Aberdeen is the coldest place in South Dakota
Aberdeen is the coldest place in South Dakota with an average winter low of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

©H2O2 at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – License

About Aberdeen, South Dakota

As of the 2020 census, the population of Aberdeen sat at 28,495. This makes it the third most populated city in the entire state, right behind Sioux Falls and Rapid City. A college town, it’s home to two different colleges:  Northern State University and Presentation College. This may be one reason for its high population. 

Before Aberdeen was ever settled by Europeans, it was a part of the Sioux territory. Europeans first entered the area in the 1820s for fur trading before later acquiring the land in the late 19th century. Aberdeen was first plotted out on January 3, 1881. It was named after Aberdeen, Scotland, the birthplace of the man responsible for naming the little town, Alexander Mitchell.

Aberdeen used to be known as the Town in the Frog Pond. This is because it was prone to periodic flooding, which made it difficult for the new and budding city during its earliest years. Although there was little danger to the inhabitants of the town itself, the same could not be said for their newly constructed homes and stores along Main Street. This flooding caused water to fill every basement, which could takes or weeks to remove with only a single steam-powered pump to share. Since the heavy rains would return often, it made it difficult to stay dry!

It wasn’t until the 1880s that a ditch system was created to help combat the heavy rains and the “Frog Pond”. It took several attempts and modifications to perfect this infrastructure, but, eventually, Aberdeen has both a way to prevent flooding as well as its first water supply. The author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, lived here briefly at the end of the century. 

Aberdeen is the third most populated city in South Dakota
Aberdeen is the third most populated city in South Dakota with a population of 28,495.


Coldest Temperature Recorded in South Dakota

Although Aberdeen is the coldest place in South Dakota, it’s not home to the coldest temperature ever recorded in this state. Instead, you can find that by looking no further than McIntosh. McIntosh is located right on the northern border of the state, and its known for extreme temperatures.

As far as the coldest temperature recorded goes, you’ll need to flash back to February 17, 1936. On this brisk winter day nearly a century ago, McIntosh reached an extreme low of -58 degrees Fahrenheit. Talk about chilly!

Surprisingly, McIntosh also set a record for the hottest temperature that same year, with one day reaching a high of 114 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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Ski slope in South Dakota Black Hills
Ski slope in South Dakota Black Hills.
© Jacob Boomsma/

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About the Author

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. I love everything animals and nature related! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to watch documentaries and explore nature.

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