We love snow. It's pretty damn fun. In actual fact, we spend a high proportion of our time chasing it, thinking about it and occasionally getting to ride on the stuff.
However, we know that some place have too much of it, which frankly seems cray to us; but what do we know? Either way, we put our science cap on, did some research, looked at weather systems and data; and have come up with this!
The next few pages are the places in the world with the highest average snowfall per year. This list doesn't include the highest snowfall ever recorded in one day, or over a period of time, but an average based over years of data.
Without further ado, hit the right arrow key to find out more...
(Hit the left and right arrow keys to scroll through the article)
Mt Rainer - Washington, USA
Average Snowfall per Year: 16.51m
Mount Rainer is the one of the highest mountains in the Pacific Northwest, at an oxygen-depriving 4,392m above sea level.
The Pacific Northwest has somewhat of a golden equation when it comes to snow systems. The Gulf of Alaska, farther to the west, create huge storms that are added to by a system called Cyclogenesis, which intensifies them. These huge low-pressure systems are then carried along by the jet stream that then carries them eastward.
As it’s carried eastward, it hits the warm air of the lower mountains which then means the mother of all weather systems then hits the higher peaks in Washington and Oregon.
This is why it’s one of the snowiest places on earth with an average of 16m+ of snowfall a year and has a record of 31m in one year.
That’s a lot of snow.
Alyeska - Alaska, USA
Average Snowfall per Year: 16.3m
Alyeska, in Alaska, also takes advantage of these massive Pacific Northwest storms, and it has the added advantage of being on the some of the farthest eastern coast, therefore getting the brunt of the travelling storms.
Over 17 peaks in Alaska measure over 4,000m meaning the topography is naturally perfect for huge weather systems to hit them and release their snowy goodness onto the peaks below. Alyeska once got 7m+ in a 24 hour period in 1998.
Basically, shovelling your driveway in Alyeska is a full-time job…
Mt Baker – Washington, USA
Average Snowfall per Year: 16m
Have you ever heard of La Niña? Whilst it might sound like a delicious tapas joint, it’s actually what George Clooney would call ‘The Perfect Storm’.
Le Niña is when the surface of the tropical Pacific is at a much cooler temperature than usual. The trade winds that travel from east to west push the surface layer of warm water from the eastern coasts of South America, toward Indonesia and Australasia.
Then, when the warm water begins to gather on the western territories, all of the cooler water travels back towards the east through heat convection.
Basically, it’s like eating soup; you always take soup from the side of the bowl, as it’s cooler.
This wet weather system is then pushed northerly towards the Rockies meaning you get the winter to end all winters. During a La Niña cycle in 1999, Mt Baker got 28m of snow in a single year.
Niseko - Hokkaido, Japan
Average Snowfall per Year: 15m
Niseko is located on Japan’s north island, and is (in relative terms) a mere stone throw away from the rugged outcrops of Siberia. Whilst this might sound a bit horrible, it does mean that Niseko gets the southerly tip of the Siberian weather systems that pound the North Pacific and Bering Straits.
The Siberian High, is an accumulation of very cold and dry air, that gathers on the northeastern Eurasian terrain from September until April. When the tails of this system pass by, it meets the coastal weather systems of Japan and can result in huge snowfall
Whilst the snow isn’t as dry as it is at some of Japan’s other resorts, we bet you won’t be complaining.
Alta - Utah, USA
Average Snowfall per Year: 13m
Utah is one of those strange places in American, that’s either desert or mountains, and if we’re perfectly honest, we don’t think we’ll ever be able to get our heads around that fact.
Although it lies farther inland than Washington or Oregon, it still receives some of the same weather systems that the more northerly states do. The rolling plains of the desert allow the systems to roll through the cold temperatures in the winter before hitting the peaks of the Utah mountains. This keeps the deserts dry, and the mountainous regions stocked with snow all season long.
The cold weather also means the resorts in Utah can open much earlier than some other resorts in the United States. Ok, so the example given here – Alta – still thinks it's OK to ban snowboarders from riding there, the freaks, but head to a neighbouring Utah resort to score similar goods.
Revelstoke - British Columbia, Canada
Average Snowfall per Year: 13m
Mount Fidelty is the Glacier that lies roughly 30 minutes drive to the east of Revelstoke, the resort with the most snowfall in Canada. With an average of 144 days of snow per year, it’s no surprise that people flock to Revelstoke from all over the world to err... revel in the stoke.
Arguably, Revelstoke was the flash-point of the helicopter operation game. One of the first heli companies in the world, Canadian Mountain Heliski set up shop nearly 50 years ago and has even been the topic of a 233 page book called Bugaboo Dreams: A Story of Skiers, Helicopters and Mountains.
Thankfully, the helicopter industry has progressed from some of the earlier trips that used to happen. Give this a look if you’ve got the time - makes for some hair-raising reading.
Nagano - Nonshu, Japan
Average Snowfall per Year: 11.1m
You don’t host the Olympic Games if you ain’t got snow (erm...), and in 1998, Nagano hosted the Winter Games for the first time. With an average of 11 meters of snow falling each season, it’s another reason why Japan is the promised land for snowboarders across the planet.
Throw in the fact that in Japan, it’s believed that the souls of your ancestors live in the forest; you have untracked tree runs all day long.
In actual fact, one of the complaints from riders is that there’s so much snow, you can barely see your line when your charging own the slope. Mental.
Kirkwood Mountain - California, USA – 9m
Average Snowfall per Year: 9m
Not only does Kirkwood Mountain in California, get over 9m of snow, on average per season; but the terrain around the area means that all of the snowfall can be accessed.
Unlike most mountains, Kirkwood’s highest peak has a ridge that stretches for 3 kilometers; this allows riders to spread out across the terrain, and take advantage of the natural terrain. The cliffs, drops and cornices, alongside the wooded terrain, mean thousands of snowsport enthusiasts flock to the place to ride untouched terrain.
Valdez - Alaska, USA
Average Snowfall per Year: 7.77m
Valdez is THE place for big mountain snowboarding. Each year, a select handful of the best riders in the world, go there to test their mettle on the surrounding terrain. Whilst in this list, 7.77m of average snowfall seems meagre, it’s the type of the snow that makes Valdez stand out.
With many of the peaks in Alaska having over 50° pitches, it’s pretty damn steep. In a lot of places, the snow just slides straight off the steepest segments meaning that they’re un-rideable.
In Valdez, the snow has the perfect moisture content to allow it to ‘stick’ to these pitches, making it THE place for steep, technical snowboarding. If you’re going, you better take a spare pair of trousers. Actually, make that two.
Mt Washington - New Hampshire, USA – 7.14m
Average Snowfall per Year: 7.14m
Mount Washington lies in a perfect trifecta of three weather fronts, leading to it’s commonly attributed title of ‘Home of the World’s Worst Weather’.
Atlantic weather fronts meet with Gulf winds and Pacific Northwest fronts, before they’re rocketed skywards by the sheer vertical rise of the range. For a staggering 110 days a year, hurricane winds are recorded on the peaks of Mt. Washington. It actually holds the record for the highest windspeed ever recorded on the Northen and Western hemisphere; 372km/h in 1934.
An amazing place to visit, as long as you don’t get blown off the mountain…