We all think we know which are the snowiest cities in the world. Considering all the literature and movies about snow in Moscow, Russia, and Helsinki, Finland, you’d guess they were two of the snowiest cities in the world. They’re far from it, and with just annual averages of 18 inches in Moscow and 28 in Helsinki, they don’t even come close to making the list of top ten.
Probably the reasons the two cities are always portrayed as winter locations is that their temperatures stay icy cold from November to May, and what little snow they get stays around for months. Hence the great snow scenes depicting the Battle of Moscow in the film and book of “War and Peace”.
Perhaps the world champion snow city is Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan, where there’s an average of 248 inches a year. It’s located on the far north edge of the island nation, and famed for steaming hot springs and natural pools that flourish all winter, and serve as spas for human visitors and residents. The hot springs are also enjoyed by the only monkey tribes in the world that live in cold climates. Sapporo has many winter festivals, and some feature houses and tourist hotels built entirely of ice.
Marquette, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, can claim the United States title of snowiest city, with an average annual total of 129 inches. It’s a university town, and there are many winter activities available to students, local residents and tourists brave enough to venture there during the snowy winters. Nearby, next to Lake Superior, is Porcupine Mountains, where downhill skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports are popular.
Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska, and just one of the great far north state’s snowy destinations. It has an average of 114 inches a year, offers plenty of nearby ski areas, as well as some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, both in its pine forests and ocean excursions where tourists see whales close up and personal.
Flagstaff is in Arizona. Right? That’s the state of hot, dry deserts, coyotes, road runners and cacti, where temperatures often spike up to 120 degrees. However, savvy vacationers go to Tucson and Phoenix there in the winter, because daylight temperatures can hit the 80s in January. That’s not the same picture in the far Northern Arizona city of Flagstaff and surrounding areas. The university city of Flagstaff gets an average of 100 inches of snow a year.
Not many people know that Flagstaff perches at an elevation of 7,000 feet. There are many nearby ski areas, and is just two hours drive away from the Grand Canyon, where winter snows make the already beautiful views even more impressive.