What Are Winters Like in Minnesota? (What to Expect)

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Are you wondering what are winters like in Minnesota and what to expect, whether you’re moving here or just visiting?

As a Minnesota native, I know that one of the first things that comes to mind when people think of Minnesota is snow and cold.

Which isn’t wrong, because we do get a lot of those two things during winter! But you may be curious how much, or how cold it really gets.

In this post, I’ll go over what to expect from the cold season, when winter is, how long it lasts, and more, all from someone who grew up here.

What Are Winters Like in Minnesota?

So before we get into the details, I just wanted to give you the run-down on all things Minnesota winters.

Winter up in the northern state that most people assume is Canada is, well, interesting to say the least.

We see many cold days, some reaching as low as -40 degrees, others hovering in the mid-30s.

Snow can pile up and certain areas in the state can reach upwards of 60+ inches.

A road covered in snow surrounded by short pine trees during a Minnesota winter.

The air tends to get pretty dry and mixed with the cold, this can be pretty uncomfortable.

Now that I’ve probably scared most people off, let’s not forget the absolutely magical feeling you get when you see those snow-dusted trees.

Or the small villages of ice houses out on the frozen lakes.

And the frozen waterfalls lining the North Shore or Lake Superior’s mighty waves crashing into the land.

While Minnesota is cold and does see a heck of a lot of snow, we have some of the most beautiful places around, and it’s worth seeing.

Now let’s get into the real specifics of it all!

Winter Climate in Minnesota

Below you’ll find more information on what to expect from a winter in Minnesota from temperature to how many days you might see the sun.


The cold temperatures are usually what turn people away from visiting Minnesota in the winter months.

Usually, the temperatures average out at around 15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

But there are several days a year where the temperature hovers around 0-15 degrees for a few days in a row.

On warmer days, they may push up into the mid-30s to 40s, but this is usually when we get closer to spring or when winter first is beginning.

And on extremely cold days, I’ve seen temperatures reach as low as -30 degrees (without windchill).

This doesn’t happen often, and when it does, typically everyone stays home and some businesses may even close down for the day.

Nighttime is usually the coldest, with temperatures oftentimes falling below 0 degrees, and then rising again in the morning.

Wind Chill

Something that you’ll often hear Minnesotans talking about is the windchill.

This terrible thing that we experience nearly every day in Minnesota is when you combine the actual temperature with the temperature of the winds blowing.

It can cause a temperature of 25 degrees to feel like 0 degrees some days.

When doing any sort of outdoor activity in winter, it’s important to check the ‘feels like’ temperature, which can be found on your weather app.

Minnesota’s average wind speed in winter typically falls between 10 and 12 mph.

Leafless trees covered in snow.


Snowfall in Minnesota can be pretty drastic, especially up near the North Shore, which might see upwards of 70 inches per year.

Down by the Twin Cities, they’ll see much less, typically around 40 to 50 inches per year.

December usually gets the most snow with an average of almost 5 inches.

Snow typically starts falling in late November or early December and stops by the beginning of May.


Even though we see a lot of snow and cold days here in Minnesota, we do still get to see sunshine pretty often.

Some days, it’ll be quite confusing because the sun is out and you think it’ll be a nice day, but it winds up being 0 degrees out!

The saddest part of winter (to me) is that the sun isn’t out for as long anymore.

From December to March, it’s out for less than 12 hours per day.

When is Winter in Minnesota?

The first day of December typically marks the start of winter in Minnesota.

Sometimes, people will say it starts in November because we might get snow early, but most people classify November as fall.

Winter usually lasts into March before the transition into springtime.

But… unfortunately, we usually see a late-season snowfall that happens sometime in April, so some people consider it winter until May.

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    How Long Do Minnesota Winters Last?

    TOO LONG! But here’s your real answer…

    From December to March is usually classified as the winter season here in Minnesota.

    This is about 4 months, but it usually lasts longer and goes into April and sometimes even May.

    Tall pine trees in Minnesota after a winter snow storm.

    On the other hand, it may start earlier and we could see snow as early as Halloween.

    It’s really tough to pinpoint exactly what the winter months are in Minnesota because it changes from year to year.

    But you can surely count on there being snow and cold days from December to March.

    What is the Coldest Month in Minnesota?

    February has long been Minnesota’s coldest month, with many days reaching below 0 degrees.

    In fact, the coldest day in recorded Minnesota history (-60 degrees F) was back in February of 1996.

    But this isn’t normal and it’s not often that you’ll see a day as cold as that.

    How Cold Does it Get in Minnesota?

    One of the many questions people have when wondering what winters are like in Minnesota is about the cold temperatures.

    As I mentioned above, when you factor in the actual temperature and the windchill, Minnesota can reach temperatures of -30 to -40 degrees F.

    But again, this isn’t extremely common and you’ll usually see much higher temperatures.

    Normal temperatures fluctuate around 15-30 degrees F.

    If you do see something this cold, it’s very important to ensure that you’re dressed properly for going outside.

    You’re especially going to want a pair of warm winter boots, because I know that my feet are always freezing!

    How Much Snow Does Minnesota Get?

    Depending on where you are in the state, Minnesota receives as much as 70 inches.

    This happens typically only up on the North Shore along Lake Superior, which really has a mind of its own!

    Down in southern Minnesota, you’ll likely see closer to 40 to 50 inches per year.

    Many trees covered in heavy snow are what you'll see during winters in Minnesota.

    When Does it Start Snowing in Minnesota?

    The start of winter and snowfall can vary from year to year, but typically it’s sometime in mid-November.

    It can happen as early as Halloween (you’ll see littles bundled with a winter coat under their costume!).

    Or as late as mid-December (then we get worried we won’t have a white Christmas!).

    How Harsh Are Minnesota Winters?

    I won’t lie to you here, Minnesota winters can be extremely harsh, especially if you aren’t prepared for them.

    They’re long, cold, and can be intense.

    We’ve often been said to have some of the worst winters in the United States, and there’s a reason many people avoid it.

    Are Minnesota Winters Really All That Bad?

    Whether you consider Minnesota winters ‘bad’ all comes down to your personal preference and opinions.

    Some people love it and truly thrive in the snow while others choose to head down south for the winters and return when it gets warm.

    The snow and cold can be pretty miserable and it really does suck to be locked indoors for so long if you aren’t into outdoor activities.

    But if you have the proper snow gear, understand how to drive in the snow, and have people to get you by, you’ll be able to survive a Minnesota winter.

    So whether or not they’re ‘really all that bad,’ I can’t speak to, because it all comes down to what you think!

    (Personally, I don’t love the cold, but I do love winter activities. So I’m pretty torn on what I think!)


    Does Minnesota Have Cold Winters?

    Yes, Minnesota has very cold winters that last a long time.
    Temperatures often drop below 0 degrees F and rarely get above 40 degrees until April or May.

    How Do People Survive Winters in Minnesota?

    This is a tough question to answer, but we wear lots of layers, find a fun activity to keep us busy, and have plenty of blankets around every corner.
    Minnesota winters can be long and drawn out, but if you make the most of them, they can be a lot of fun.

    Is Minnesota the Coldest State?

    While it is surprising, Minnesota isn’t actually the coldest state!
    Alaska and North Dakota typically take the lead, while Minnesota follows behind in third.

    Wrap-Up: What Are Winters Like in Minnesota?

    Between the snow and cold, many people wonder why people live in Minnesota in the first place.

    But once you’ve gotten used to the long winter season, you find great ways to keep yourself busy.

    So now that you know the answer to your question, what are winters like in Minnesota, will you be paying a visit anytime soon?