The Snowiest Places

The year end holidays.  These are holidays of homecoming.  But when it comes to the weather, they are undoubtedly holidays of snow.

The Mountain Exhaled
Creative Commons License photo credit: laszlo-photo

Now sure, one could argue that for the southern half of the world, the end of the year brings summer.  This is true.  But let’s face it, thanks to people like Charles Dickens, the end of year will first and foremost always bring images of snow-men, sleigh-rides, and Santa Claus; even if you live someplace where Santa Claus is known to ride in on a surfboard.  Below are just a few places famous for their snow.

Mount Rainier, Washington

Mt. Rainier
Creative Commons License photo credit: as737700

From February 1971 to February 1972, this mountain in Washington state saw a record breaking 1224 inches of snow.  To top it off, Mount Rainier is an active volcano towering some 14,203 feet over the United States’ pacific northwest (with a prominence of 13,211 feet).  The last time Mount Rainier erupted was 1894.  Fortunately, more recently, the United States Geological Survey has set up a Lahar Warning System to help assist with early detection and evacuation for the next time the great mountain decides to explode.

Mount Baker, Washington

Mount Baker
Creative Commons License photo credit: skedonk

Where as Mount Rainier’s record is for one year beginning in February, the actual “Snowfall Season” begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th.  When this specific duration is taken into account, the record holder for the most amount of snowfall in one season is Mount Baker with 1140 inches of snow.  Suffice to say, the Cascade Mountain range (which also is home to Mount Rainier) is an area with an exceptional amount of snowfall.  As with Mount Rainier, Mount Baker is also a volcano, with its last eruption occurring in 1880.  It towers at an elevation of 10,781 feet over the Pacific northwest (with a prominence of 8,812 feet).

Silver Dollar Lake, Colorado

Creative Commons License photo credit: andy54321

Year long records are interesting, but they’re not too dramatic.  For an actual awe inspiring experience, one needs a shorter length of time, such as the most amount of sheer snow to be dropped in a single day.  In the United States, that record goes to Silver Dollar Lake, Colorado.  Beginning at 2:30pm on April 14th, 1921, an amazing 75.8 inches of snow dropped by the next afternoon.  That said, it gets even better.  The snow didn’t stop the next afternoon; it kept going.  By the time the storm was over, a total of 87 inches of snow had been dropped.

Syracuse, New York

Creative Commons License photo credit: Nick Mathew

Before we begin discussing records and cities, we need to answer one crucial question, “Alright, so what constitutes a city?”  For the sake of this article, we’re including all “cities” with a population of over 50,000 people.  So with that in mind, if you’re looking for the snowiest city in the United States, look no further than Syracuse, New York.  This city of over 140,000 people has seen an average snowfall of 115.6 inches in recent years.  Not impressive enough?  It’s absolute record in any one given year is 192.1 inches.  This record breaking snowfall is due to the city benefiting from both nor’easter snow as well as a lake effect from nearby Lake Ontario.

New York

Creative Commons License photo credit: fiat luxe

Sticking with our cities with a population of over 50,000 people rule, the state containing the most amount of high average snowfall cities would be none other than New York.  Just how many?  Of the fifteen highest average snowfall cities in the United States, ten of them are located in New York.  A couple factors could contribute to this.  Despite its smaller size (compared to say, California or Texas), New York is the third most populated state in the nation.  Now sure, one could point to New York City as the reason for this, but the fact remains that the state is going to contain a large number of cities numbering over 50,000 people.  Couple that with the fact that these surrounding cities would also benefit to the weather effects that make Syracuse and it becomes obvious why New York dominates with its impressive snowfall.

Siberia, Russia

If one is searching for the most unusual natural snow in the world, then one would be hard pressed to do better than Siberia on February 2nd, 2007.  On that date, Siberia experienced a snowfall covering 580 square miles.  So why was this strange?  The snow was orange.  Furthermore, the snow was oily to the touch and smelled bad.  Environmentalists immediately descended, claiming the snow must be the product of heinous amounts of pollution emanating from Russia.  Actually, the most likely cause for this unusual snow was a sandstorm that had just taken place in nearby Kazakhstan.  Sand particles were blown into the upper atmosphere where they combined with water vapor and would later fall as snow.


Creative Commons License photo credit: mricon

When it comes to average snowfall, it can be difficult to measure a city, let alone a country.  For the sake of this article, we’ll give the record arguably to Canada.  With the south of Canada being similar to the north of the United States, and with its northern, less populated areas close to the artic circle, Canada definitely has an advantage.  This is especially true when one also takes into account Canada’s rather large surface area.  Suffice to say, the country has the perfect conditions for claiming the largest average snowfall.  Again, this may be difficult to measure, but even so, Canada is inarguably towards the top if not at the peak of this impressive record.

It’s a popular urban legend that Eskimos have dozens of words for “snow”.  But during this Holiday season, whether its powder, sleet, or slush, it’s not the snow itself, or even where you find it that’s important, but who you experience it with.  Happy Holidays!

The Snowiest Places
November 30, 2009 • Posted in: Uncategorized
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