Climate change is already profoundly affecting how we live our lives. With increasing temperatures causing the oceans to rise and more extreme weather causing floods, droughts, and wildfires, many Americans suffer the consequences of global warming. Even the seasons are affected, with parts of the US currently seeing the earliest spring conditions on record.
But which US states have seen the biggest rise and temperature drops this century? We’ve dived into annual climate data since 2000 to find out. Additionally, we’ve also taken a look at the hottest and coldest vacation destinations using current average temperature data.
Average Temperatures in Maine Have Increased 6.1% Since 2000, More than Any Other State
1. Maine 6.1% increase 2000-2022
Pine Tree State takes the unfortunate title of the state with the biggest increase in average temperature, rising by 6.1% since 2000. Maine is already contending with the impact of climate change on its coastal communities, with rising sea levels increasing the risk of flooding. Warming oceans have also affected the state’s wildlife, making it habitable for invasive species and pushing native fauna further north.
2. Massachusetts 5.9% increase 2000-2022
Taking second place is The Bay State, home to Boston’s freedom trail, one of the best things to do in Massachusetts for visitors who love history. Temperatures in the state have increased by just under 6% since 2000. The state is already dealing with the impact of extreme rain, snow, and flooding caused by climate change. Although the projected increase in sweltering days poses the most severe public health risk, causing more deaths from heat-related illnesses.
3. New Hampshire 5.6% increase 2000-2022
Next up is yet another New England state on the list, New Hampshire. Residents of the state’s coast are already experiencing increasingly common and severe flooding caused by rising tides. Warming climates are also lengthening the state’s mosquito season, posing a higher risk of illness for residents. The state has taken third place with a 5.6% increase in average temperature since the millennium.
Average Temperatures in Maine Have Increased by 6.1% Since 2000, More than Any Other State
1. Minnesota 4.3% decrease 2000-2022
The first of three midwestern states on the list, Minnesota can be crowned the state with the biggest decrease in temperature. Despite many other states experiencing the hottest temperatures on record, Minnesota has cooled by 4.3%, or 1.8ºF, since the millennium.
This is thanks to a large area of warm water in the north pacific caused by climate change impacting the jet stream pushing colder air into the midwest and lowering temperatures.
2. North Dakota 4.1% decrease 2000-2022
North Dakota is taking second place, with the state’s average temperature dropping by 1.7ºF since 2000, a 4.1% decrease. North Dakota can stay cold in the face of climate change as The Rocky Mountains block warm air from the Southern Pacific reaching the state.
3. Wisconsin 2.5% decrease 2000-2022
Rounding up the top three is Wisconsin, cooling by 2.5% since the millennium, with average temperatures dropping by just over a degree. The Badger State is already experiencing more extreme weather events, including severe storms due to climate change, which are pushing pollutants into its rivers and harming wildlife.
Key West, Florida, Has the Highest Average Annual Temperature in the US at 77.3ºF
1. Key West, Florida Average annual temperature: 77.3ºF
Taking the top spot as the hottest vacation spot is Key West, Florida. Thanks to its location close to the Gulf Stream and the Gulf of Mexico, Key West has a mild tropical climate, with summer and winter temperatures rarely differing by more than 10 degrees. This makes it the perfect vacation destination year-round, boasting plenty of free things to do in Key West outside in the sunshine.
2. Miami, Florida Average annual temperature: 76.2ºF
Next is another Floridian city, Miami, with an average temperature of just over 76ºF. The popular vacation destination nestled on the coast of Florida benefits from short dry winters, with the cold season typically lasting only three months. Being on the coast, Miami also enjoys warmth from the surrounding water heating the adjacent land.
3. Maui, Hawaii Average annual temperature: 75.6ºF
Taking third place is Maui, the second largest of the islands making up the state of Hawaii. The island is renowned for its microclimates, ranging from dry in the south to humid and verdant in the west, so there are plenty of options if the weather decides your vacation destination. Temperatures in Maui average 75.6ºF annually.
Denali National Park, Alaska, Is the Coldest Destination in the US, with Average Annual Temperatures of 26.4ºF
1. Denali National Park Average annual temperature: 26.4ºF
Unsurprisingly, Alaska’s Denali National Park is the US’s coldest vacation destination, with temperatures averaging 26.4ºF annually in a state where it can go as low as -80ºF in some areas. Weather conditions in the national park can often change without warning, so it's best to be prepared for any eventuality if you choose Denali as a vacation destination.
2. Telluride, Colorado Average annual temperature: 31ºF
Up next is the first of two vacation destinations in Colorado, Telluride. The town is renowned for its world-class ski resort, making it perfect for a winter getaway, and it also offers panoramic views of the San Juan Mountains. Temperatures in Telluride average 31ºF annually.
3. Aspen, Colorado Average annual temperature: 34.1ºF
In third place is Aspen, Colorado. Like Telluride, skiing and snowboarding are some of the best things to do in Aspen, with the peak season lasting from December to February. However, it offers plenty of other outdoor activities in the warmer months, from hiking and biking to rock climbing and even hot air ballooning.
Historical annual average temperature data for each state from 2000 to 2023 was taken from the NCEI. No overall state data was available for Hawaii, so an average of city data was taken.