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Love it or hate it, snow is a regular occurrence during winter throughout the northern U.S. While some people may associate snowfall with the drudgery that accompanies it, from shoveling the driveway to scraping off the car, others opt for a more positive perspective. These people have learned to embrace winter by appreciating its natural beauty and participating in activities that accompany fresh snow, such as skiing and sledding. Whether you’re praying for a white Christmas or trying to avoid the fluffy stuff, these are the 10 states that receive the most snowfall annually.
Wisconsin (45.79 inches)
Snowfall in Wisconsin varies considerably from north to south, with the southern region accumulating around 30 inches annually. In contrast, the state’s northern region has reported upwards of 100 inches of snow per year. Referred to as “Up North” by Wisconsin residents, the northern half of the state is home to both the Gogebic Range and Lake Superior, both of which contribute to the large amounts of annual snowfall. As a result, winter sports such as skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing are integral to Wisconsin’s winter culture, as a way to make the most of the snowy region.
Wyoming (51 inches)
Although snow usually falls in Wyoming from November until May, the accumulation is spread unevenly throughout the state, thanks to Wyoming’s varying topography. Certain state locales, such as the Big Horn Basin, record as little as 15 to 20 inches of snow per year. Other parts of the state are on the opposite end of the snow spectrum — one ranger station in Yellowstone National Park sees an annual snowfall average of 262 inches. Although the plains region records a low amount of snowfall when compared to Wyoming’s mountainous regions, it still averages out to be quite a snowy state.
Massachusetts (51.05 inches)
For such a small state, Massachusetts often receives an inordinate amount of snowfall. The winter of 2014-2015 was record-setting, with a whopping 108 inches recorded over the season. In the city of Boston, which is known for its narrow cobblestone roadways, six-foot-high walls of snow lined every street and sidewalk. Much of the snowfall was a result of nor’easters, which are storms with strong winds and heavy precipitation that form along the Atlantic seaboard.
New York (55.32 inches)
Although New York City can be subject to nor’easters, like the infamous Blizzard of ‘96, most of the state’s annual snowfall occurs upstate. With lakeshore access to two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario), upstate New York experiences heavy lake-effect snow. These storms occur when arctic air passes over lake water and is warmed and moistened, resulting in heavy snowfall. In November 2014, two consecutive lake-effect storms dropped nine feet of snow on Buffalo, New York, over the course of just three days.
Michigan (60.66 inches)
Michigan’s highest snowfall occurs in the northern part of the state. As the Upper Peninsula has access to three different Great Lakes, it’s no surprise that is where the heaviest snowfall is recorded, due to lake-effect storms. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parts of the U.P. receive over 180 inches of snow annually. As a result, it is not uncommon to use a snowmobile as a primary mode of transportation here during the winter.
Alaska (64.46 inches)
Due to its extreme northern location, Alaska may be thought of as the most wintry state in the U.S. Surprisingly, however, it doesn’t have the highest average annual snowfall. That’s because Alaska is a massive state with a highly variable climate, with coastal areas being more temperate, and inland regions being subject to cold, snowy winters. Still, Alaska is no stranger to jaw-dropping snowstorms, like when 78 inches of snow fell in 24 hours in 1963. Perhaps this is one reason why residents have learned to enjoy the winter, favoring activities such as dog sledding and snowmobiling throughout the cold season.
Colorado (67.3 inches)
Colorado is one of those rare places that is both especially snowy and sunny, which is why winter enthusiasts flock to the state. Colorado’s plentiful mountain ranges receive more than 120 inches of snow a year, while the state also boasts an average of 240 sunny days. With popular ski resorts such as Telluride, Aspen, and Vail to choose from, Colorado is a skier’s paradise, and most people who visit in the winter are in search of fresh powder. If you’re not a fan of snowfall, however, the capital city of Denver is often pleasantly dry and sunny, with a mere 15 inches of snow per year.
New Hampshire (71.44 inches)
New Hampshire is a state famous for its long, snowy winters. When combined with its access to mountains — including Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast — it’s a popular place for skiing and other snow-based activities. The winter of 2014-2015 was a banner year for skiers, as Concord received 90 inches of snow, 30 more inches than average. And in 2007-2008, the state capital received a record 119 inches. Due to its heavy snowfall, skiers can ski Mount Washington throughout the spring and, sometimes, into the summer.
Maine (77.28 inches)
Over the past decade, Maine’s precipitation events have gradually increased. Coastal Maine typically receives less snow than the interior parts of the state and is often subject to freezing rain and sleet in the winters. Similar to Massachusetts, however, the coast of Maine is subject to nor’easters, and these cold-weather storms can dump a foot or more of snow in 24 hours. The northernmost tip of the state often receives the most snow, reporting 125 inches annually.
Vermont (89.25 inches)
Another New England state tops the list for average annual snowfall. Although Vermont is a popular destination in any season, the state, which is home to the Green Mountains, is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts who love to spend time in the snow. Average snowfall registers from 80 to 100 inches in the winter months, which means there are plenty of opportunities to ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile throughout the state. Vermont often receives heavy snowstorms from the northwest, as well as lake-effect snow from Lake Champlain.