Snow can be seen as a blessing or a curse. Most of us like the idea of a White Christmas but prolonged snowfall usually turns into a nightmare – transportation gets affected and the winter wonderland quickly disintegrates into a slushy and dangerous mess. Here’s a list of the world’s top 10 snowiest cities but be aware that they are constantly changing.
Moscow experiences long cold winters where snow can be expected all the way from the beginning of November through to the end of March. In addition the city has a particularly bad traffic problem all year around which is only exacerbated during this winter snowfall. However due to a climactic quirk Moscow also gets very hot summers with sweeping heat waves that have proved deadly in recent years.
Known internationally for producing the Japanese beer, Sapporo also draws two million tourists every year to its annual snow festival. The Yuki Matsuri takes place in Japan’s fifth largest city over a week in February and showcases amazing snow and ice sculptures. The snow festival has a long history but was restarted in its current format in 1950 after World War Two. In the unlikely event of there being insufficient powder, snow is shipped into Sapporo from other parts of Japan.
While New York itself is a very snowy city, Syracuse gets the most average in New York State. Syracuse is known throughout America for its snowfall and has won the Golden Snowball award. The high snowfall is party a result of the proximity of Lake Ontario and the fact that it has a humid continental climate. The national average in Syracuse is 252 centimetres per year but the record is 487 centimetres.
Quebec is a typical Canadian city with warm and pleasant summers, when temperatures tend to be around 25 degrees Celsius, and long gruelling winters. Residents brace themselves for an annual average of 316 centimetres of snow per year falling over 107 days. Large snowdrifts are common but Canadians are experts at coping with snow.
Helsinki has a humid continental climate. The capital of Finland gets very cold in winter as this Scandinavian city is so far north. There is a chance of snowfall in November and snow is almost guaranteed from December through to March. In fact in can get frighteningly cold at -20 degrees on occasion, yet the Gulf Stream and the Baltic Sea keep things warmer than you would expect.
Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and close to the ski resort of Aspen, Denver gets consistent snow over the year with about nine months of snowfall out of 12. The city actually has an arid climate and summers are hot and dry while only 155 centimetres of snow can be expected over the year. However Denver is on our list of snowiest cities because when it does snow it really snows, with a record low temperature of -29 degrees Celsius. The heaviest ever single dump of snow was recorded in 1913 when 116 centimetres fell in one snowstorm. November is one of the snowiest months.
Cleveland in Ohio is one of the snowiest cities in America with more than 252 centimetres of snow expected over the year. That is a combination of the same Lake Effect snow that Syracuse experiences and also having a humid continental climate. Most of the snow falls in the eastern region known as the Snow Belt. The West Side has only exceeded 250 centimetres of snow in a season three times over the last 40 years.
As the most northerly capital city in the world it is hardly surprising that Iceland receives a lot of snow. Snow can be expected from November through to March but the temperature does not get far above freezing for the rest of the year so there is always a chance of snow in Reykjavik. That said Iceland is actually relatively warm considering how far north it is due to the Gulf Stream current. It is rare that temperatures drop below -15 degrees Celsius in the winter.
Valdez is a seaport city in Alaska which is far enough North that it usually has snow right from November through till April. That is because the surrounding Chugach Mountains create a heavily glaciated climate. With such weather it is no wonder that tourism to Valdez supports both heli-skiing and cruise ship customers who come to see the glaciers and marine life.
San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
San Carlos de Bariloche is the gateway to the best Andes skiing in Argentina. While this city usually enjoys a cool and mild climate there is sustained snowfall from May through to September. The lowest temperatures are -12 degrees Celsius and while it can also get above four degrees there consistent sleet and snow. Late in the season you can expect a lot of snowfall (remember the seasons are reversed as this is a southern hemisphere city). Some extreme storms can bring a few metres of snow.