Why does Stanley, Idaho record the Lower 48’s lowest temperature so often?

Dear Tom,

Why does Stanley, Idaho record the Lower 48’s lowest temperature so often?

Steve Beranek,
Arlington Heights

Dear Tom,

A 1996-2015 study by Steve Dutch of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, revealed that Stanley led the nation recording the nation’s lowest temperature 522 times, the vast majority of them during the summer. Stanley’s propensity for very low summer temperatures is a result of its location. Nestled in a mountain valley at an elevation of more than 6,200 feet, it lies below the nearly 12,000-foot snow-capped peaks of the Sawtooth and White Cloud mountains, allowing the cold, dense air surrounding those peaks to descend into the valley at night. The temperature is taken at an automated weather station about two miles east of town. Winters there are also very cold with the site’s record low of minus 54 recorded on Dec. 23, 1983.

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