What are some record snowfalls over a 24-hour period in the United States?

There have been a number of impressive snowfall records in the United States since the 1990s, including the following:

Record One-Day Snowfalls



Snow (inches/cm)

Valdez, AK

January 15, 1990


Deadwood, SD

November 24, 2008


Buffalo, NY

December 9-10, 1995


New York, NY

February 11-12, 2006


Glasgow, MT

October 12, 2008


What is the record for the greatest snowfall in the United States?

The record for the most snow in a single storm is 189 inches (480 centimeters) at Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in California from February 13-19, 1959. For the most snow in a 24-hour day, the record goes to Silver Lake, Colorado, on April 14-15, 1921, with 76 inches (193 centimeters) of snow. The year record goes to Paradise Ranger Station, Mount Rainier, in Washington with 1,224.5 inches (3,110 centimeters) from February 19, 1971, to February 18, 1972; Paradise also has the highest average annual snowfall with 680 inches (1,727 centimeters). In March 1911, Tamarack, California, had the deepest snow accumulation—over 37.5 feet (11.4 meters).

Snow fences like this one are used to prevent snow drifts from encroaching on buildings.

Snow fences like this one are used to prevent snow drifts from encroaching on buildings.

Has it ever snowed in Arizona?

Higher elevations in the state actually receive quite a bit of snow. Flagstaff, for instance, is situated at an elevation of about 7,000 feet (2,133 meters), and experiences very cold temperatures in the winter (in January 22, 1937, the temperature dipped to -30°F [-34.4°C]). Though the climate of Flagstaff is officially "semi-arid," the city receives 100 inches (254 centimeters) of snow annually. Even in lower elevations, however, snow is not unknown in Arizona. Tucson received an extraordinary 6.4 inches (16.5 centimeters) of snow on November 16, 1957. This, of course, was not typical for the otherwise very hot city.

What are some other unexpected places where it has snowed in the United States?

In Louisiana, two feet (61 centimeters) of snow fell on the town of Rayne on February 14, 1895. Another old record is held by Savannah, Georgia, where 18 inches (46 centimeters) of the white stuff fell on January 10, 1800. More recently, residents of New Orleans were surprised to see snow accumulations on their front lawns on December 11, 2008.

What is a heavy snow warning?

A heavy snow warning is issued when the National Weather Service expects an accumulation of four inches (10 centimeters) or more within a 12-hour period. Heavy snow warnings differ from blizzard warnings in that they do not depend on strong winds for an advisory to be issued.

What is the purpose of a snow fence?

Snow fences are usually installed in places where there is not much in the way of vegetation or buildings to keep winds from blowing and drifting snow. The fences create wind turbulence that prevents drifting downwind of the fence.

What is a snow roller?

People aren't the only ones who enjoy building snowmen. Sometimes, nature gets into the game as well. In windy, wintry conditions, breezes have been known to start small collections of snowflakes rolling. As they roll, snow accumulates, and the snowball gets bigger and bigger. Such snow rollers have been known to grow to diameters of several feet.

What are the 10 snowiest cities in the United States?

The annual average snow precipitation for the 10 U.S. cities that have the most snow is listed below.

Top 10 Snowiest U.S. Cities*


Average Annual Snowfall (inches/cm)

Truckee, CA


Steamboat Springs, CO


Oswego, NY


Sault Ste. Marie, MI


Syracuse, NY


Marquette, MI


Meadville, PA


Flagstaff, AZ


Watertown, NY


Muskegon, MI


* Cities included have a population of 10,000 people or more; statistics are averages from 1971 to 2000.

** The Marquette airport gets 179.8 inches (456.7 centimeters) on average.

Is it ever too cold to snow?

No matter how cold the air gets, it still contains some moisture, and this can fall out of the air in the form of very small snow crystals. Very cold air is associated with no snow because it is usually very dry and these invasions of air from northerly latitudes are associated with clearing conditions behind cold fronts. Heavy snowfalls are associated with relatively mild air in advance of a warm front or on the back side of a strong low pressure system. The fact that snow piles up, year after year, in Arctic regions illustrates that it is never too cold to snow.

Can you use snow to keep you warm?

Snow, just like wood or stone or soil, can be used as an insulator. If there is sufficient snow on the ground, one can dig out a small cave or igloo-like structure, crawl inside of it, and wait for one's body heat to warm the inside. To work more efficiently, it is best to be six or more feet (two meters) below the surface, and keep the opening of your snow cave downwind. Such makeshift structures can warm up to 60°F (15°C) or more, and can be quite cozy. They are a good way to avoid exposure if one has become lost or stranded outdoors in the winter.

How warm can the weather be and yet have snowfall?

It is possible for the temperature on the ground to be in the 40s Fahrenheit (4 to 9°C) and still snow. This happens when snow forms at colder temperatures in clouds and does not melt before reaching the ground. In one case, a temperature of 47°F (8°C) was measured at New York City's LaGuardia Airport when snow was also seen.

What is the snow line?

The term snow line can refer to two different things: 1) the elevation on a hill or mountainside above which snow has fallen and below which the precipitation turns to rain; or 2) the latitude north of which is covered by snow.

What are you seeing when you "see your breath"?

It can be fun for kids to breathe out on a cold day and pretend that they are perhaps dragons, but it is obviously not smoke coming out of their mouths: it is water vapor. What is happening is that the moisture in one's breath (humidity) is turning to fog as it leaves the warm confines of the mouth and hits the chilly air. While one or two people breathing out on cold days will not affect the weather, it has been observed that large herds of animals huddling together on a winter's day can actually produce a small fog bank.

What places experience the most annual precipitation on Earth?

Highest Annual Precipitation

Place Precipitation (inches/cm) Years on Record

Lloro, Columbia



Mawsynram, India



Mt. Waialeale, Kauai, HI



Debundscha, Cameroon



Quibdo, Columbia



Bellenden Ker, Queensland, Australia



Henderson Lake, British Columbia, Canada



Orkvica, Bosnia-Herzegovina




What is the most rainfall ever recorded within a one-day period?

Tropical Storm Claudette brought a record U.S. rainfall of 43 inches in 24 hours in and around Alvin, Texas, in July of 1979.

The coastline near Arica, Chile, known as the driest place on Earth.

The coastline near Arica, Chile, known as the driest place on Earth.

What places have the lowest annual precipitation on Earth?

Lowest Annual Precipitation


Precipitation (inches/cm)

Years on Record

Arica, Chile




Precipitation (inches/cm)

Years on Record

Amundsen-Scott Station, Antarctica



Wadi Halfa, Sudan

< 0.1/0.025


Batagues, Mexico



Zaranj, Afghanistan



Aden, Yemen



Mulka, South Australia



Astrakhan, Russia



Puako, HI



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