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Snow Facts

Cars stuck in traffic after a heavy snow
  • Snow continues to challenge weather experts across the country. It is still very difficult to predict and is surprisingly hard to measure once it has fallen.

  • Based on National Weather Service records for 1961 through 1990, Rochester, New York averages 94 inches of snow annually and is the snowiest large city in the United States. Rochester has a population more than 200,000 and annual municipal snow-removal budget of $3.7 million (1995 figures).

  • Buffalo, New York, is a close runner-up in terms of U.S. large cities with the most snow. A 39-inch snowfall in 24 hours in early December 1995 cost the city nearly $5 million for snow removal.

  • Almost 187 inches of snow fell in seven days on Thompson Pass, Alaska in February, 1953, according to the National Snowfall and Snow Depth Extremes Table provided by the National Climatic Data Center.

  • Each year an average of 105 snow-producing storms affect the continental United States. A typical storm will have a snow-producing lifetime of two to five days and will bring snow to portions of several states.

  • In the early 1900s, skiers created their own terminology to describe types of snow, including the terms "fluffy snow," "powder snow," and "sticky snow." Later, the terminology expanded to include descriptive terms such as "champagne powder," "corduroy," and "mashed potatoes."

  • Fresh snow is an excellent insulator. Ten inches of fresh snow with a density of 0.07 inches, seven percent water, is approximately equal to a six-inch-layer of fiberglass insulation with an insulation R-value of R-18.

  • Practically every location in the United States has seen snowfall. Even most portions of southern Florida have seen a few snow flurries.


  • Snow kills hundreds of people in the United States each year. The primary snow-related deaths are from traffic accidents, overexertion, and exposure, but deaths from avalanches have been steadily increasing.

  • The greatest snowfall officially reported at the Phoenix, Arizona National Weather Service Office was one inch. That occurred twice. The first time was January 20, 1933. It happened again four years later on the same date.

  • In the western United States, mountain snow pack contributes up to 75 percent of all year-round surface water supplies.

  • The commonly used ten-to-one ratio of snowfall to water content is a myth for much of the United States. This ration varies from as low as 100-to-one to as high as about three-to-one depending on the meteorological conditions associated with the snowfall.

  • Nationwide, the average snowfall amount per day when snow falls is about two inches, but in some mountain areas of the West, an average of seven inches per snow day is observed.