The Southeast is bracing for Winter Storm Leon, which is expected to dump ice and snow as far south as Florida. Already much of Charleston, S.C. -- where I live -- has closed as we brace for freezing temperatures, ice, and the first snowfall in years. While businesses in the South close at the first hint of snow, many other parts of the country thrive in these conditions. In fact, the following five cities still thrive despite more than a week of subzero temperatures each year.
According to the Weather Channel, Lincoln, Neb., is the seventh coldest big city in America as its average temperature from December to February is just 26.8 degrees. But with nearly a dozen subzero temperature days per year the capital of Nebraska ranks fifth on our list of subzero cites. It's not just bitterly cold in Lincoln for more than a week each year, it's subfreezing for an average of 143 days a year.
But for the more than 258,000 people who call Lincoln home, the cold temperatures each year don't seem to bother them. Last year the city topped the Gallup-Healthways list of "Happiest & Healthiest" cities. Not only that but business in Lincoln is thriving, too. The city ranked fourth on Forbes list of "Best Places for Business and Careers."
Warren Buffett might be America's warm-hearted billionaire, but he lives in one of the coldest cities in America. Like Lincoln, Omaha is below zero about a dozen days each year. Overall, the city sees an average temperature of 25.9 degrees between December and February, remaining below freezing for about 133 days each year.
Despite the cold temperatures, business really thrives in Omaha as it is the home to five Fortune 500 companies, including Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Tourism is also important to the city as each year Berkshire Hathaway draws tens of thousands of its stockholders and value investors to Omaha to attend the company's annual meeting. It's certainly the right place to hold the event as Omaha has been identified by Forbes as the "Best Bang-for-the-Buck City," something that Buffett and fellow value investors greatly appreciate.
Next on the list is Madison, Wis., which endures an average of 17 subzero days each year. Overall, the capital of Wisconsin sees an average temperature of 21.6 degrees between December and February as it is below zero for about 152 days each year.
The state government and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are the city's top employers. In fact, the university is a key reason why many technology companies are opening offices in the city. Tech giants Google and Microsoft are among those with offices in the city. Overall, the city is thriving as evidenced by the fact that its unemployment rate is well below the national average at just 4.9%.
It's probably no surprise to see Anchorage on the list. The city sees nearly three weeks of subzero temperatures each year. More than half of the year the city sees below freezing temperatures as it tops this list with 192 days below freezing. Overall, the city sees average temperatures of just 18.8 degrees from December to February.
Despite being the northern most big city in America, commerce thrives in Anchorage thanks to the state's abundant natural resources. Global energy giants like BP (NYSE:BP) have a strong presence in the city thanks to its proximity to Alaska's North Slope oil field. While the state's oil industry has been declining for years, BP and its peers are looking to reverse that decline as the company is planning a billion dollars in new investments this year, which will add another 200 jobs to the region.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
While Anchorage is colder more days each year, the Twin Cities tops our list of subzero cities. It can be below zero for up to 25 days each year. While the Twin Cities see fewer days below freezing than Anchorage at 151 days a year, the December to February average temperature of 18.7 degrees means it takes the crown of America's coldest big city.
Despite the frigid winter temperatures, business thrives in Minneapolis. The city has the fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country. It's also the second largest economic center in the Midwest behind Chicago. So, while it might be cold outside, it isn't putting a freeze on business.
This year is off to a cold start. Not only are temperatures dropping across the country, but so are stock prices. Don't let the cold snap scare you as American businesses thrive in the cold. Instead, this could be a great opportunity to invest in a stock or two that could add some warmth to your portfolio.