Why is Peter Sinks, Utah so cold?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,

Recently Peter Sinks, Utah has been registering the nation’s lowest temperature. Why is that location so cold?

Thanks,
Gerald Talsky

Dear Gerald,

Peter Sinks, Utah is located in mountainous terrain, 20 miles northeast of Logan. The Utah Climate Center reports that the area’s propensity for extremely low temperatures is due to several factors-unique basin topography, high elevation, and dry climate.  The limestone sinkhole has an elevation of 8,164 feet with no natural drainage. On clear, calm nights, ideal radiation conditions allow rapid heat loss into the atmosphere. Additionally, the area’s cold dense air sinks to the bottom of the basin, resulting in extremely-low readings. The site’s record low of minus 69 on February 1, 1985 is the nation’s second lowest reading, bested only by minus 70 at Rogers Pass, Montana on January 20, 1954.

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