North America is shoveling its way through what is already a record winter of snow accumulation, with northern and parts of the central U.S., as well as southern Canada, bearing the brunt of it.
November’s average snow cover across North America was an estimated 5.24 million square miles, topping the previous November record of 5.11 million square miles in 2014, according to data from the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, dating to 1966, The Weather Channel reports. This extent of snow cover was about 861,000 square miles larger than average, or, over three times the size of Texas.
Is it, however, the stuff of snowy legend? Pffft. Not even close.
Before we present a collection of the snowiest places on Earth, it’s important to examine why parts of the planet can get so walloped by the white stuff when scientific climate measurements, in fact, indicate dangerous levels of warming taking place.
Differentiating between weather and climate is the first step. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines climate as the average of weather over at least 30 years, and that’s where the rub comes in, no matter how many inches (… or, feet, of snow falls; more on that in a minute) accumulate in certain spots.
“According to NASA, the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1997,” reports Scientific American, the longest continuously published magazine in the U.S. for more than 170 years. “And the NOAA reports that recent decades have been the warmest since at least around 1000 AD and that the warming we’ve seen since the late 19th century is unprecedented over the last 1,000 years.”
The periodical further posited that, with carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continuing to pump into the atmosphere, that rising temperatures might actually contribute to more snowfall. As an example, Scientific American cites the winter of 2006, when warmer temperatures caused Lake Erie to not freeze for the first time in its history, which led to increased snowfalls due to more water from the lake being available for evaporation and precipitation.
In the meantime, here are some of the snowiest spots on the planet:
The Italian village, about 125 miles east of Rome, in 2015 was pounded with 100 inches of snow in a mere 18 hours, which broke the one-day world record of 76 inches set in 1921 in Silver Lake, Colorado, USA. Maybe more amazing is that the town isn’t even part of the Italian Alps, according to the Daily Mail. The hamlet is a modest 4,600 feet above sea level.
“It is also close to the sea and sits exposed to cold fronts from the northeast,” the Daily Mail explained of Capracotta, “making it one of the snowiest areas of the world when measured in terms of abundance over short periods of time.”
Aomori City, Tōhoku, Japan
Located in the northeast region of Honshu, the city home to nearly 300,000 people is slammed with the heaviest annual snowfall in the world, according to AccuWeather, a worldwide weather forecasting service since 1962.
With an average of 312 inches, Aomori tops the list of all major cities for snowfall worldwide. Japan’s geographical location, oceanic position, high elevations of the mountains and the country’s proximity to cold air from northeast Asia result in it being one of the planet’s snowiest locations, AccuWeather further explains.
Tamarack’s location high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains makes it an ideal location to measure massive moisture provided by an active storm track off the Pacific Ocean, says The Weather Channel. It holds the record for the most snow in a calendar month with 390 inches (32.5 feet) in January 1911.
The site of this record is at an elevation of 7,000 feet near where the Bear Valley Ski Resort is now, according to Christopher Burt of wunderground.com.
And there’s more. That same year, in March, Tamarack racked up the U.S. record for greatest snow depth ever measured at 451 inches, or 37.5 feet, which is roughly as tall as a standard telephone pole.
Mt. Baker Ski Area (Washington state, USA)
The greatest seasonal snowfall total ever recorded was an astounding 1,140 inches (95 feet) at the classic Pacific Northwest ski resort that dates back to the 1920s. The record accumulation occurred during the snow season from July 1998 through June 1999, according to The Weather Channel.
The resort’s elevation peak is around 5,000 feet and is just 10 miles from the Canadian border.
Also, Mt. Baker enjoys the unofficially highest average annual snowfall of any resort in the world, with 641 inches.