The 9 Snowiest Places on Earth



(Image credit: Mount Washington Observatory.)

Snow: love it or hate it, this winter there's been an awful lot of it. The United States has gotten blasted with blizzards this winter at one point in January, every state had snow on the ground . (Except for Florida. Figures.)

Although it's the extremes that generally make the news, digging out is a yearly fact of life in some spots around the globe. Here's a look at some of the places around the world that, according to some data, have the highest average annual snowfall (noted in italics in each entry).

We've winnowed down the top contenders to better reflect different regions around the globe. So don't be upset if we've skipped over just a few!

So sharpen your shovels, get out the skis, or just snuggle up with some hot cocoa. Here's a look at the places in the world that get more snow than anywhere else.

Mt. Washington, New Hampshire


(Image credit: Mount Washington Observatory.)

21.75 feet (6.6 meters)

Mt. Washington may be best known for its powerful winds, but it makes the snow list as well. In fact, it's one of the snowiest spots in the eastern United States.

Although the summit gets hit with a lot of snow, the snow doesn't stick around for long, according to meteorologists at the Mt. Washington Observatory, a non-profit science center on the peak. The snow gets blown off the mountain into the surrounding ravines. In some years, up to 80 feet (24 meters) piles up in nearby Tuckerman Ravine. It's likely the folks in the popular ski area don't mind the extra white stuff.

Chamonix, France


(Image credit: Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force.)

31.4 feet (9.6 meters)

In Europe, this French alpine town wins the snow contest. And although it's a popular ski destination it served as the host of the world's first winter Olympics in 1924 serious business goes on in the mountains, too.

In this photo, pararescuemen, members of a special operations unit from the 56th Rescue Squadron, an arm of the U.S. Air Force stationed in Lakenheath, England, practice rescue techniques near Mont Blanc above Chamonix.

Nagano, Japan


(Image credit: Masashi Mochida.)

36 feet (11 meters)

This mountainous area, just tens of miles from central Japan's northern Pacific coastline is also a popular ski resort. (Are you sensing a theme?)

In addition to getting loads of snow, the area is also home to some pretty tough monkeys. After spending time in the snow, these Japanese macaques warm up by taking a dip in hot springs that dot the area.

Kirkwood Mountain, California


(Image credit: Courtesy of Kirkwood Mountain Resort.)

39.4 feet (12 meters)

Sunny California may seem like an unlikely record-holder for average annual snowfall, but this mountain region just south of Lake Tahoe gets slammed every year. Along the western edge of the Sierras, Kirkwood is the first peak hit with any moisture coming off the Pacific. The surrounding mountains and valleys help funnel these winter storms to the area and hold them longer.

Alyeska, Alaska


(Image credit: Ken Graham Photography.)

42.75 feet (13 meters)

Just outside Anchorage, Alyeska stands near a long ocean inlet that stretches into Alaska's southern shoreline. The resort area is hemmed in on all sides Chugach State Park surrounds the town, and the water runs along its southern edge. But if you manage to make it here, the skiing is said to be sublime.

Alta Ski Area, Utah


Mt. Superior from High Rustler. (Image credit: Bobbi Tolman.)

43.5 feet (13.3 meters)

The Great Salt Lake is one of the culprits behind the annual pile of snow that is dumped on this region in the Little Cottonwood Canyon, high above Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Mountains. Here, skiers rule the mountain no snowboarders allowed on the slopes.

Mt. Fidelity, Glacier National Park, BC, Canada


(Image credit: Parks Canada.)

48.25 feet (15 meters)

Many mountainous spots in Canada dominated this list, but as far as we can tell, this place is the big winner. This mountain is one of the few inland spots to make the list that doesn't have a large, watery neighbor. Big, open bodies of water that don't freeze over in cold weather are one of the main factors behind the massive snowfalls.

Niseko, Japan


A house buried in snow in Niseko. (Image credit: David McKelvey.)

49.5 feet (15 meters)

Legend has it that skiing was brought to Japan only 100 years ago. According to the story, a major in the Austrian army gave the first ski lesson to locals in January, 1911. The sport has more than caught on in the intervening century, and this ski town, on Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, is a destination for skiers from all over the world.

Paradise Ranger Station, Mt. Rainier, Washington


(Image credit: National Park Service.)

56.3 feet (17 meters)

And the winner is...Paradise!

Snow covers one of the area's glaciers .

According to some data, this mountain pass in the Pacific Northwest gets more snow annually than any other spot on Earth. And no pricey lift-tickets are required to see this snowed-in spot. Located inside Mount Rainier National Park, the annual snow spectacle is open to all.

Andrea Mustain was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a B.S. degree from Northwestern University and an M.S. degree in broadcast journalism from Columbia University.