Immobilizing snowfalls and subzero temperatures can have long-lasting effects on travel and commerce, as well as cause absences from work and school, especially in major metropolitan areas. While some cities only see a few inches of snow annually, others get hammered with multiple feet.
Each city on our list receives an annual average of at least 90 inches of snow. While snowfall depth is hard to calculate worldwide, the top 8 cities are ranked based on how many inches they receive per year.
Famous for annual snowfalls and located east of Lake Erie, Buffalo kicks off the list with an annual average of 95 inches of snow. The city is home to 259,384 residents and sits at the head of the Niagara River. President William McKinley was shot in the chest twice during an assassination attempt by anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo on Sept. 6, 1901.
8. Rochester, N.Y., U.S.
Rochester slides into the number nine spot with an annual average of 99 inches of snow. The city is home to more than 260,000 people and is located south of Lake Ontario. One of the first anti-slavery publications ever produced was founded in Rochester in 1847 before the American Civil War.
7. Akita, Tōhoku, Japan
Located east of the Sea of Japan in the Akita Prefecture, Akita is home to more than 320,000 residents. An average of approximately 107 inches of snow covers the region each year.
6. Saguenay, Quebec, Canada
Recently formed in 2002 as a merger between municipalities and cities including Chicoutimi, Saguenay is home to more than 145,000 residents. The region receives approximately 123 inches of snow annually.
5. (Tie) Syracuse, N.Y., U.S., and Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Tying for fifth place, Syracuse, N.Y., and Quebec City both receive an annual average snowfall of approximately 124 inches. Syracuse is the economic epicenter for much of central New York with more than 145,000 residents.
4. St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Originally claimed as an English colony, the island of Newfoundland houses St. John’s, one of the oldest and most historically significant cities in North America. Each year average snowfalls bring approximately 131 inches along the eastern edge of the Avalon Peninsula to more than 100,000 residents.
3. Toyama, Hokuriku, Japan
Located in central Honshu, the largest island which comprises most of Japan’s landmass, Toyama is home to more than 417,000 residents and is the capital city of the Toyama Prefecture. Positioned along the coast of the Sea of Japan in the north, Toyama receives more than 143 inches of snow per year, making it one of the snowiest locations in Japan. The Toyama prefecture is also near the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Yuki no Otani, where the highway cuts through walls of snow creating a canyon to the feet of snow the region receives each year.
2. Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Holding the rank of fourth-largest city in Japan, Sapporo is home to more than 1.9 million residents and famous for its annual Sapporo Snow Festival. The festival features food, snow sculptures and cultural snow-related activities. The city itself is located on the northernmost Japanese island, Hokkaido. Annual snowfalls average approximately 191 inches. In 1972, Sapporo hosted the XI Olympic Winter Games.
1. Aomori City, Tōhoku , Japan
Aomori City is located in the Aomori Prefecture in the northeast region of Honshu. Embedded between Aomori Bay, Mutsu Bay and the Hakkōda Mountains in the South, the city, which is home to more than 299,000 people, is slammed with the heaviest annual snowfall in world. With an average of 312 inches, Aomori tops the list of 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 make it one of the snowiest locations on the planet.