Maryland covers about 12,406 square miles and is surrounded by coastal water. The stunning land has three major regions: the Piedmont plateau, Atlantic Coastal Plain, and the Appalachian Mountains. But what is the coldest temperature in Maryland?
Maryland’s location receives the strong upper westerlies during winter and the southern side in summer. The direction and speed of upper-level winds influence cyclone and anticyclone movements.
More than a century ago, on Jan 13, 1912, Maryland recorded a truly teeth-chattering winter with temperatures dropping to -40 degrees Fahrenheit in Oakland. Many parts of the Chesapeake became icy. The cold wave settled in northern Virginia and Maryland, turning the land into solid sheets of ice.
Today, Oakland is considered the snowiest city in Maryland. On average, it receives 106.1 inches of snow yearly. However, this westernmost town is also known for its railroad history and the yearly Autumn Glory Festival.
Despite the chilly weather, the small town is charming during winter. It is decked with twinkling lights, Christmas greenery, magical trees, and enchanting pavilions. The winter fest also takes place every February, including ice carvings and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Let’s discover more about winter weather in Maryland.
Brief History of Oakland, Maryland
Oakland is a small town in Maryland that was incorporated in 1862. The historic B&O railroad makes the city famous among locals and visitors. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church is one of the prominent historical churches in the region.
Owing to its valley location and high elevation, Oakland is among the snowiest and coldest places in Maryland. In January, the average monthly temperature ranges from 25.16 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.8 degrees Celsius) to 68.36 degrees Fahrenheit (20.2 degrees Celsius) in January.
Winter in Maryland
Maryland typically sees warm, lovely summers and snowy, chilly winters. However, you can expect snowfall throughout the year. The east coast state has a winter season consisting of stunning layers of snow ideal for ice skating and snowman-building competition.
Surrounded by coastal waters and beautiful mountains, Maryland receives an average snowfall of 20.6 inches. But this varies yearly, with its peak record being 262.5 inches. Coastal winds drive cold air inland, but western Maryland is less snowy than the eastern region, which stretches along the coastline.
If you want to visit Maryland, prepare for the chilly months of January, February, and December. Although the winter months are picturesque, the chilly weather might keep you indoors for a long time. In addition, snow in these months is heavier and deeper than in the rest of the seasons.
According to government data, Maryland reaches an average of 31.4 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. So naturally, the weather demands appropriate footwear, hefty car tires, and proper wrapping. But the natives are used to the teeth-chattering climate.
Generally, temperatures might be lower near the ocean than at the Chesapeake Bay. This is because the topography barrier shelters the bay from chilly elements, making it warmer. The coastline is, however, exposed to unruly winds with no natural barriers.
The Chesapeake Bay is an average temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit during winter, which is higher than the overall state average temperature. But the coastline registers 21 degrees Fahrenheit, far below freezing.
December usually marks the beginning of cold weather, with the heaviest snow recorded in western Maryland. January is the coldest and snowiest month of the year, with average temperatures of 15.98 degrees Fahrenheit. During this month, snowfall can reach 10 inches in the highlands.
Although February remains cold, temperatures rise slightly. As a result, snowstorms and snow are common during this month.
Apart from Oakland, Annapolis also records low temperatures in January, which can drop to 29.84 degrees Fahrenheit. The capital city experiences snow for approximately 8.3 days, collecting 0.47 inches yearly.
Winter Forest Birding in Maryland
When the colder temperatures hit the land, residents will be tempted to stay indoors. But winter can also be an ideal time to explore birding spots. Many species migrate over and through Maryland in the winter months. While the shorebirds and waterfowl catch the attention of visitors, it’s interesting to tour less obvious places.
Maryland, especially Chesapeake, is a common habitat for pine siskins. Additionally, you can easily spot ruby-crowned kinglets and white-throated sparrows. Other resident species include the Carolina wren, the white-breasted nuthatch, and the northern cardinal.
Here are a few recommended places for birding during the coldest months:
Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area
The 1,900-acre land focuses on rare grassland species. With its barren serpentine habitat, the complex is home to over 30 rare, endangered, and threatened plant species, minerals, insects, and rocks, along with plenty of birds. In addition, it boasts seven miles of hiking trails, from which bicycles and equestrians are prohibited.
Pemberton Historical Park
Pemberton is 262 acres of historical park comprising fields, wetlands, and forest habitats. The site offers 4.5 miles of hiking trails endowed with nature’s beauty. It is also a ground for historical and educational activities.
There are brochures offering guidance on various natural features, plants, and birds. With more than 100 bird species spotted here, Pemberton historical park is excellent for birding during winter.
The Arboretum is a diverse habitat for meadows, wetlands, and woodlands, making it a suitable site for birding during cold months. In addition, the meadow and woodland paths give visitors perfect views for bird-watching.
Enjoy spotting butterflies and birds, guided by the take-along guide. In addition, you can schedule a private bird walk as a family or group and learn countless facts about monarch butterflies and birds.
How Animals in Maryland Survive Winter
Many people wonder how different animals adapt to a harsh, cold environment. Here are a few animals in the area that adapt to survive these chilly temperatures.
Some birds, such as the chickadee and the nuthatch, store food during the fall to eat during the winter. They are able to survive the cold temperatures by fluffing up their feathers, which trap a layer of warm air close to their bodies.
Other animals, such as grey squirrels and chipmunks, also store food for the winter and hibernate to conserve energy.
Raccoons, skunks, and opossums survive the winter by entering a state of torpor, a light form of hibernation. This allows them to be active during warmer days and conserve energy during cold spells.
Some reptiles and amphibians, such as turtles and frogs, burrow underground or in the mud where the temperature is more stable.
Lastly, deer and other mammals grow thicker coats of fur or hair to stay warm. They also rely on stored fat to provide energy during the winter months.
Undoubtedly, Maryland can get chilly in winter, but it offers a host of activities and beautiful scenery. There are miles of trails and ice games to enjoy. Viewing the incredible birds and wildlife while in the icy-sheets woodlands leaves you with remarkable memories. If you want to experience the coldest months in Maryland, visit from December through February.
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