What Are the Snowiest Cities in the U.S.? | Almanac.com

What Are the Snowiest Cities in the U.S.?

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Where is there the Most Snow in the United States

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What are the snowiest cities in the United States? Which city has the most snow each year? Take a guess and then look at this list of the top 10 cities that receive the most snowfall each year!

What Conditions Are Needed for Snow?

It may surprise you that the snowiest places in the United States aren’t always the coldest places. (See the coldest cities in the U.S.)

There are several conditions needed for snow. Of course, it must be cold, specifically below freezing (32° Fahrenheit or 0° Celsius) in the atmosphere and near the ground.

Additionally, warm, moist air must meet cold air, forcing it to lift over the frigid air mass. This is why there are often heavy snows near lakes or the “Lake Effect” snow; frigid air blows across a warm body of water. The warmer the air, the more moisture; this allows storms to dump vast amounts of snow once the temperature falls.

One more condition for heavy snow is the position of the jet stream. When a warm, moist air mass from the south collides with an icy air mass from the north, and the temperature drops below freezing, expect snow to dump!

husky dog lying in the snow

The Snowiest of Them All: Mount Washington, NH

While this list is focused on cities, we can’t fail to mention Mount Washington, NH. The weather station, located on its summit, reports the most snowfall, with 283.5 inches per year!

This substantial snowfall is partly due to Mount Washington’s high prominence at the confluence of two major storm tracks and to the north-south orientation of the Presidential Range ridgeline, which it crowns. Mount Washington also holds the record as the windiest place in the United States (and ranks second in the world for windiness).

mount washington inn and mount washington in winter
The famous Mount Washington Inn is a historic landmark.

Determining the Top Snowiest Cities

NOTE: This list only looks at cities with at least 10,000 people. Otherwise, this would be a concise article of mostly Alaskan towns! 

Besides Mount Washington, many towns in the United States received impressive amounts of snow but didn’t make the 10,000 population cut-off. The town with the most snow is Valdez, Alaska, with 279.4 inches per year on average. Another stand-out is Blue Canyon, CA, with a historical average of 241.7 inches per year! 

The list below is based on the average number of snowfall inches (including ice pellets and sleet) from the official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records since reporting began. The weather data comes from individual weather stations from all over the United States.

Notes: The accuracy of weather reporting is only as good as your local weather station’s reports. This list reflects historical data based on the weather station’s period of record; beginning in April 1988, hail is also included under snowfall, which means that some stations may show snowfall during the warm months. See NOAA observed data.

Top U.S. Snowiest Cities

1. Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

One of the oldest French settlements in North America, Sault Ste. Marie is near the river bank connecting Lake Huron and Lake Superior. With lake-effect snow, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the snowiest places in the United States. Sault Ste. Marie has received an average snowfall of 119.3 inches per year.

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

2. Syracuse, New York

Upstate New York is certainly no stranger to snow. Syracuse has the highest annual snowfall, with 114.3 inches per year on average. Not far behind is Buffalo with 92 inches and Rochester with 89.3 inches. All are in the traditional lake-effect snow belts, with cold winds from the west moving across the relatively warm Great Lakes.

Syracuse, New York
Downtown Syracuse in winter. Credit: Debra Millet/Shutterstock

3. Juneau, Alaska

The capital of Alaska gets 93.6 inches of snowfall per year. Other major Alaskan cities also bring the snow, including Anchorage (73.1 inches) and Fairbanks (64.8 inches). 

While we’re not included in populations below 10,000, take a glance at the average snowfall in some of these towns! Valdez, AK has a record of 279.4 inches per year! Yakutat, AK, received 162.1 inches of snow on average, and Talkeetna, AK, received 120.9 inches. 

Juneau, Alaska

7. Flagstaff, Arizona

We head south to Flagstaff, AZ, where they receive an average of 87.6 inches of snow each winter. This popular mountain town is an exciting winter destination, with a myriad of outdoor sports complexes and hiking/skiing trails. 

Arizona Snowbowl is an alpine ski resort in the southwest, located on the San Francisco Peaks of northern Arizona, seven miles (11 km) north of Flagstaff. Flagstaff, Arizona
Photo Credit: BCFC/Shutterstock

5. Duluth, Minnesota   

Duluth is a port city on Lake Superior in Minnesota. Yep, it’s that lake effect, again! Duluth sits on the north shore of Lake Superior at the westernmost point of the Great Lake, and the city receives an annual snowfall of  83.5 inches, on average. 

Of course, there are many big snow cities in our northern-tier state of Minnesota, including International Falls (64.8 inches), Minneapolis-St. Paul (49.9 inches), Rochester (45.6 inches), and Saint Cloud (45 inches).   

Duluth, Minnesota 

6. Erie, Pennsylvania

Noticing a trend? Erie is a city on the south shore of Lake Erie; it’s the only port on the Great Lakes. This city is a very snowy place to live, with 80.9 inches on average. Its winters are moderately cold, with heavy lake-effect snow.

cars coverd by snow in Erie, Pennsylvania

7. Burlington, Vermont

Ah, snowy Vermont. The scenic town of Burlington is located in northwestern Vermont, on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, south of the Canadian border. Locals say there’s usually at least an inch on the ground throughout winter, totaling 80.2 inches over their long, wintry months.

Burlington, Vermont
Scenic Burlington, VT. Credit: LIXPIX/Shutterstock 

8. Muskegon, Michigan

A winter wonderland, Muskegon is situated between Lake Michigan to the west and Muskegon Lake to the north, receiving heavy lake-effect snow from Lake Michigan during winter time, totaling 79.3 inches annually. Midwesterners flock to Muskegon in the winter for luging, ice skating, and wintry fun. The state of Michigan has many snowy cities, including Grand Rapids (74.6 inches), Flint (49.9) and Detroit (43).

USS Silversides winter in Muskegon, Michigan
USS Silversides in winter, Muskegon

9. Casper, Wyoming      

Winters are cold, snowy, and beautiful in Casper. At a mile high, it’s unsurprising that Casper has snow—about 77 inches per year, on average. In this case, it’s more of a dry snow, not the moist lake-effect snow that many other cities above receive. The more significant issue is probably the cold winter winds and the wind chill factor.

Casper, Wyoming 
Lots of snow and drifts in Casper, Wyoming. Credit: Doug Tunison/Shutterstock

10. Portland, Maine

Portland has cold, snowy, and often prolonged winters with 70 annual inches of snow, on average. It’s not as high on this snow list as some of the far-northern U.S. cities because Portland is located along the coastline. Warmer ocean waters cause subfreezing air to erode, which can cause snow to transition to sleet or rain along the coast.

While many small towns in Maine fall below our 10,000 population cut-off, the town with the most snow on average is Caribou, Maine, with a whopping 114.3 inches per year on average.

11. Worcester, Massachusetts (Honorable Mention)

Winters are particularly snowy in Worcester, which is located about 40 miles west of Boston. The city averages 66.8 inches of snow annually (while snowfall for Boston totals 43.8 inches).  Located at a higher elevation than surrounding towns, Worcester is harder hit by Nor’easter storms and extreme blizzards as warm, humid air from the southwest collides with cool, dry air from the north. 

Worcester, Massachusetts
Snowstorm in Worcester, Massachusetts. Credit: Ann Pics/Shutterstock

What other U.S. cities get a lot of snow? Here are some other cities that didn’t make the “top 11” list, but they’re definitely snowy!

12. Elkins, WV (63 inches)
13. Concord, NH (65.2 inches)
14. South Bend, IN (62.5 inches)
15. Great Falls, MT (61.5 inches) and Billings, MT (59.3 inches)
16. Salt Lake City, UT (58.2 inches)
17. Denver, CO (57.2 inches)

Check out our extended winter weather forecast for the 2023-2024 season!

About The Author

Jennifer Keating

Jennifer is the Associate Digital Editor at The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She is an active equestrian and spends much of her free time at the barn. When she’s not riding, she loves caring for her collection of house plants, baking, and playing in her gardens. Read More from Jennifer Keating