The California resort community of Palm Springs sizzled into first place as the nation's warmest community in 1988 while the small town of Gunnison, Colo., held on as the coldest spot for the fourth year in a row.

Rankings based on the number of times a community was the hottest or coldest in the 48 contiguous states gave Gunnison, nestled in the Rockies, a wide lead over all competitors, with 93 daily lows during 1988.Palm Springs, Calif., won a narrower victory with 43 daily highs, according to the report in Weatherwise magazine.

Geography professor David H. Hickcox of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, compiles the annual rankings. His study covers inhabited cities and towns with National Weather Service stations. Excluded are such extreme locations as Alaska, Death Valley, Calif., and Mount Washington, N.H.

Hickcox reported the nation's mean temperature last year at 53 degrees Fahrenheit, calculated by averaging the highs and lows from the reporting stations. That average was the same as the year before and 1 degree colder than in 1986.

Palm Springs topped the 1988 hotpoint list by moving up from fourth place a year before, Hickcox reported.