How Does This Winter Compare to Massachusetts’ Coldest Ever?

Written by Angie Menjivar
Published: February 26, 2023
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Massachusetts took a pivotal role in the American Revolution, is currently populated with tons of college graduates, and boasts gorgeous seasons throughout the year, particularly during the fall months. The weather can be unpredictable, but Massachusettsans know how to roll with the punches. You can’t talk about Massachusetts without acknowledging the inhabitants’ love for sports, their unmistakable and irreplicable accent, or their pride over their driving skills. When the winter months roll around, they make the best of the season, heading out to the Boston Common Frog Pond for a lap, challenging themselves while frostbite sailing, or taking it easy with a cup of hot chocolate and an apple cider donut.

Massachusetts is known for its cold weather, but how does the coldest winter ever recorded in Massachusetts’ history compare to this year?

The Coldest Winter Ever Recorded in Massachusetts’ History

In Massachusetts, January is the coldest month of the year. The average highs and lows differ depending on the region of the state. For instance, in the western division, temperatures usually remain in the low 20s throughout January, whereas in the coastal regions, temperatures are closer to the 30s. The central areas typically stay between the middle to upper 20s during this time period. Chester is located in the western portion of the state. It’s a small town in Hampden County where locals can visit Carm’s for handmade pastries and then get some exercise over at the Keystone Arch Bridges Trail.

In 1984, however, no one in this town would have wanted to be outside, even if it meant picking up hot coffee. On January 22nd, temperatures plummeted to a frigid -40 °F. This was a record-setting day in the whole of the state. The residents of this town endured power outages, frozen pipes, dead batteries, and damage to their homes. The weather in Chester during the winter can reach below zero, but there’s been nothing like that day in 1984. Usually, January temperatures average between 8 °F and 37 °F.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts blizzard
Snowscape with a heavy winter storm coming at the beach town on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

© Kim

Average Highs and Lows This Year

In Massachusetts, summers are balmy, with average temperatures ranging between 60 °F and 80 °F. However, when the winter season comes, locals prepare for cooler temperatures between 20 °F and 40 °F, knowing full well that some spots in the state may dip below zero depending on what the weather decides to do that day. In Boston, temperatures rarely go over 91 °F during the summer or 9 °F during the winter months.

However, this winter, Boston saw some of the coldest weather in years. Arctic air came in to blanket the area during the first week of February. February 3rd to February 4th brought in subzero temperatures, dropping all the way down to -10 °F that Saturday morning. Boston had not experienced double-digit negatives since 1957, when temperatures plunged to -12 °F on January 15th. Aside from this anomaly in early February, temperatures in the state’s capital have been comfortable for the most part, ranging between 20 °F and 60 °F.

Migratory Birds in Massachusetts

During springtime, migratory birds make their way north from their winter grounds, giving birders a fantastic treat in the way of sky displays. You can enjoy the spring migration in Massachusetts between March through June. Many of the species are on full display in mid-May. Mt. Auburn Cemetery is a hot spot for birders as they can enjoy sparrows, warblers, thrushes, and songbirds as they rest, find some food and get ready for their next voyage. The Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary provides birds with open grasslands, and birders can spot shorebirds, swallows, herons, and waterfowl.

During the late spring and early fall, waterfowl can be spotted along with shorebirds, warblers, and raptors at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Take a trip to the Cape to spot seabirds, sea ducks, and songbirds — they follow the shoreline from the Cape to Scusset Beach State Reservation. In April and May, Canoe Meadows hosts bird walks. Here, you can join other birders as you explore the wildlife sanctuary and spot flycatchers, warblers, waterflows, sparrows, and waterfowl. You may just be able to spot some bobolinks, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and red-breasted nuthatches.

White-crowned sparrow
Mt. Auburn Cemetery is a hot spot for birders as they can enjoy many birds, including sparrows.


Other Animals in Massachusetts

There are plenty of other places throughout Massachusetts where you can get up close and personal with wildlife. Visit the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to spot whales and other marine life. North of Monomoy is great for exploring animals like gray seals, hognose snakes, and meadow voles. Head out to the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge to spot foxes and white-tailed deer. Keep in mind that Massachusetts houses a large black bear population, and they may even be willing to visit residential areas, without you having to go out to their habitats. Hunting seasons are regulated in the state, and the Massachusetts government offers plenty of tips for residents to prevent problems with these bears.

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Boston, Massachusetts covered in snow
Boston, Massachusetts covered in snow after a blizzard.
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About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

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