20 American Cities With the Highest Snowfall

Some of America’s most northern cities experience high snowfall and spend much of the year looking like a Christmas card scene! These cities, often popular for their winter sports and beautiful alpine scenery, also experience the challenges heavy snowfall brings. Here are 20 of the snowiest locales in the U.S.—so grab your skis, and let’s go!

Valdez, Alaska

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Nestled against the Chugach Mountains, Valdez is the snowiest place in the entire U.S., receiving an astonishing 330 inches of snow annually. Though small, the city is a winter sports haven, offering skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling in beautiful winter scenery. The residents benefit from snow tourism but must be hardy and resilient.

Syracuse, New York

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According to Current Results, “Syracuse averages three days a year when the snowpack builds up to twenty or more inches deep.” That’s a lot of snow—more than 120 inches each year. This winter wonderland attracts skiers and sight-seers but poses significant difficulties for roadways, requiring constant clearing and gritting to keep them safe.

Erie, Pennsylvania

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Extreme Weather Watch claims the highest annual snowfall recorded in Erie was 166 inches in 2008, and yearly averages regularly exceed 100 inches. Although beautiful, the city’s winters are infamously intense, with extremely low temperatures and several challenges related to snow accumulation, especially on the roads.

Flagstaff, Arizona

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Surprisingly, this high-altitude city in Arizona receives about 100 inches of snow each year—unusual in a state known for its warm desert landscapes. Flagstaff’s snowfall creates a winter sports paradise for many residents of the Southwest, with the nearby San Francisco Peaks offering world-class skiing.

Buffalo, New York

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Located near the Great Lakes, Buffalo averages an annual snowfall of 95 inches, often in the form of ‘lake-effect’ snow, produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when a cold mass of air moves over warmer expanses of water. This phenomenon turns the city into a stunning winter scene but requires constant snow removal efforts and preparedness.

Rochester, New York

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The third New York State city on the list, Rochester is also affected by lake-effect snow and sees an average snowfall of 90 inches annually. Residents have integrated the long, deep, snowy season into their culture and lifestyle and enjoy various outdoor activities like ice skating and skiing at nearby resorts.

Boulder, Colorado

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Boulder receives approximately 88 inches of snow in any given year due to its location in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The city is famous for its Christmas card-worthy winter scenes and a hardy community that is proficient in winter sports, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Residents are proactive, undertaking many preparations before the winter snow starts to fall.

Duluth, Minnesota

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Situated on the western tip of Lake Superior, this Minnesotan city experiences heavy snowfall of around 85 inches every year. The city’s geography contributes to this, with hills that are in close proximity to a lake, causing passing clouds to readily ‘drop’ their snow in the area. However, the landscape does make the area exceedingly pretty, especially in winter.

Anchorage, Alaska

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The Anchorage Daily News states Alaska’s largest city experiences an average snowfall of 75 inches, but that has been on the rise recently—with 108 inches in 2023 and a record 138 inches in 2012. Anchorage’s winter landscape is stunning, and both residents and visitors partake in an array of winter activities against the backdrop of Alaska’s wild, natural beauty.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Grand Rapids also receives approximately 75 inches of snow a year, largely due to lake-effect snow forming over Lake Michigan. The city embraces its snowy season with various winter festivals and activities, which help keep the residents’ spirits and morale high during the long, tough, and freezing winters.

South Bend, Indiana

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Also located near Lake Michigan and subjected to vast accumulations of lake-effect snow, South Bend averages around 70 inches of snowfall annually. The city’s snowy season is a time of beauty, but the community faces significant challenges throughout the long winter months.

Cleveland, Ohio

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Cleveland receives vast amounts of lake-effect snow due to its position on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Snowfall averages around 68 inches annually and the city’s winter climate is known for its brisk temperatures and frequent snowstorms, transforming even the dullest urban landscapes into a frosted spectacle.

Denver, Colorado

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Denver is known for its close proximity to the high-altitude Rocky Mountains and experiences a varied climate, with an average winter snowfall of around 60 inches. The city’s residents enjoy very easy access to some of the country’s best skiing and snowboarding conditions, making Colorado a popular winter sports hub.

Salt Lake City, Utah

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Salt Lake City is another city close to mountainous regions, located in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains. It sees an average snowfall of about 56 inches annually and is only a short drive away from some of the best skiing in the world, with several major ski resorts operating on the nearby mountainsides.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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No stranger to heavy snow, Minneapolis has an annual snowfall of about 54 inches. The city’s cold, snowy winters are an essential part of the city’s identity, with residents fully embracing winter sports culture and outdoor activities despite the low temperatures and challenging driving conditions.

Fargo, North Dakota

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Fargo experiences one of the harshest winters in the United States, with an average snowfall of 50 inches annually and frigid temperatures. The community is necessarily resilient and well-versed in preparing for the winter months. They are also known to be altruistic, happily helping their most vulnerable neighbors.

Bismarck, North Dakota

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Like Fargo, Bismarck endures long, cold winters with high average snowfalls of about 51 inches. The city’s residents are well-equipped to handle the snow, adopting lifestyles and hobbies that embrace the harsh arctic conditions, like snowmobiling, ice fishing, and winter sports.

Madison, Wisconsin

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With an average of 50 inches of snow annually, Madison is the snowiest city in Wisconsin, largely thanks to lake-effect snow forming over nearby bodies of water, like Lakes Mendota and Monona. The city’s winters are harsh but full of life, with residents using the frozen lakes for ice skating, hockey, and ice fishing.

Spokane, Washington

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Washington’s snowiest city is Spokane, which receives about 45 inches of snow each year, one of the highest snow measurements in the entire Pacific Northwest. The city’s winter season is largely welcomed and embraced by residents, with a variety of outdoor activities, including skiing and snowboarding, enjoyed in the nearby mountains.

Reno, Nevada

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While not often associated with heavy snowfall, Reno actually experiences a surprisingly high average snowfall of 22 inches each year due to its proximity to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This allows both residents and visitors to enjoy winter sports at nearby resorts in a relatively mild winter climate compared to other skiing locations.

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