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Snowiest Cities

The snowiest cities in the US are typically located at high-altitude regions. More or less forty-six million square kilometers of the world are covered by the snow every year, and a considerable part of it is North America.

In addition to the mountainous regions, snow can also happen in other land and water areas. Large lakes have the ability to form heavy snow locally, usually referred as lake effect snow. It happens in southern and eastern edges of the Great Lakes in the United States and near the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

The lake effect snow is also affecting the weather in Boonville, New York, which is located in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, thus snowfall is common in the area. The residents also called the place “Snow Capital of the East”.

National Weather Service’s 2015 Rankings

In the category for non-mountain cities, the National Weather Service reveals that Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (158.7) ranks first as of 23 March 2015. It is followed by Marquette, Mich. (157) and Bangor, Maine (131.5). Caribou, Maine (129.4) and Syracuse, New York (118.5) are fourth and fifth placer respectively. It could also be noted that Worcester is only in the top 6 with 116.8 inches. Boston, Massachusetts (110.3) on the hand ranked 7 on the list.

The list of the snowiest cities in the US for 2015 is still not final since the winter season in many cities in the country lasts beyond March. The snow in Marquette, for example, falls for three quarters.

The Snowiest Cities for 30 Years

Just because a city sometimes makes it to the annual list does not mean that it is truly the snowiest in the country. We also have to consider whether an area has consistently high snowfall. This is a list of the snowiest cities in the US with at least 1,000 population. The list does not include include unincorporated towns, ranger stations and mountains.


According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Boonville, ranked 6th in the list, has an average annual snow of 193.5 inches for thirty years, from 1981-2010.


Lead, South Dakota

Lead ranks fifth with an average of 200.8 inches of snowfall every year with March the snowiest month. The city road even experienced nine-foot-high snow in late February to early March of 1998.

Truckee, California

Truckee is not new to snowfall. In fact, the city has already witnessed a deadly snowstorm which dumped an unfathomable 16 feet snow for only 4 days near Donner Summit in April 1980. It has an average annual snowfall of 202.6 inches.

Hancock, Michigan

Hancock ranks 3rd with 211.9 inches of snowfall on average every year. The weather is the effect of the northern latitude and the nearby Lake Superior. A 32-foot snow record was also set in the 1978-79 winter season.

Crested Butte

Every month from November to March, more or less 30 inches of snow fall in Crested Butte, Colorado. Its 215.3-inch annual snowfall made it the second snowiest place in the country. Tourists can enjoy skiing while staying in Crested Butte Mountain resort and other vacation houses in the area.

Valdez, Alaska

The snowiest city is Valdez, beating Crested Butte by over 9 feet. The city’s average snowfall per year is 326.3 inches, and the too much snow was caused by mountains surrounding the area. Tourists can also experience skiing in the nearby location such as Hilltop and Alyeska, but they should be careful because Valdez has the astonishing record of having 100 inches of snow on the ground. That happened twice in 1990.

The Golden Snow Globe Contest

The Golden Snow Globe Contest only includes cities with at least 100,000 population, and for 2015, Worcester, Massachusetts remains at the top place with 119.7 snowfall totals. Syracuse, New York (119.1) and Lowell, Massachusetts (118.6) ranked second and third respectively.

The city of Boston in Massachusetts experienced a total of 110.6 inches of snowfall so far which made it the top 5 in the list.

Another place from New York that made it to the list entered is Buffalo with 112.9. The list also includes the following: Erie, Pennsylvania (110.3); Rochester, New York (101.4); South Bend, Indiana (83.9); Grand Rapids, Michigan (78); and, Providence, Rhode Island (76.2).


How Is Snow Formed and What Causes Heavy Snowfall?

“Snow” refers to the icy precipitation with hexagonally shaped ice crystals that turn into soft, white flakes. There are a lot of factors that come into play in the occurrence of snowfall. A lot of conditions have to align.

When the atmospheric temperature is at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero degree Celsius) or below, and the humidity percentage is very low, snow forms. It will also touch the ground when the temperature is within or below freezing point; if the ground temperature is within 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), snowfall will not occur.

Snow could still occur even though the ground temperature is above freezing point. When the snowflakes reach a temperature level, they will start to melt, generating evaporative freezing which cools the air. The freezing delays melting, but if it gets too cold, snow still won’t occur. There should still be a source of dampness. This is why places with very cold temperature but no moisture seldom experiences snow, e.g. Antarctica’s Dry Valley. Even the deserts which are usually cold during winter do not have the right amount of humidity to have snowfall.

Relatively warm air, about (such as around 15 degrees F) can cause heavy snowfalls. This is due to the capacity of the warm air to carry more water vapor than cool air.

This is why the amount of snowfall great varies. For example, in California and Florida, winter rarely occurs. Yet, California experienced some snowfall during 2011 and 2014. Snowfall is also uncommon to Hawaii. These three areas usually have zero inches of snow every year because of their humidity and hotness. In these places, the temperatures are usually high, thus the production of snow cannot occur.

Other states that rarely receive snowfall are southern states Louisiana and Georgia. Even Alabama which is located in the southeastern part of the country has only 0.8 inches of snow annually. On the other hand, Arizona and South Carolina both receive 0.3 inches of snow every year.

If you want to create a 10-foot snowman or a decent winter experience, refer to these lists of snowiest cities in the US.

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