Culture

Are You a Lucky Inhabitant of One of America's Snowiest Cities?

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Many Americans are looking forward to their first snow of the season this week, while many others are already enjoying bucketfuls of the delightful white stuff.  The National Weather Service predicts above-average snowfalls in northern states this winter, with warmer, drier conditions in the South.

I can count myself to be among those lucky, hardy Americans who live or have lived in places where copious amounts of snow fall all winter long, starting in November. I recently discovered that the town I grew up in is #22 on the top 30 list of snowiest cities in America. My hometown of Cortland, NY, is just a stone’s throw from Syracuse, NY, #18 on the list of snowiest towns with populations over 6,000. Syracuse happens to be #1 on the list of the top 25 snowiest cities in America with populations over 50,000!

The top ten snowiest cities with populations over 6,000 are: 1. Park City, UT, 2. South Lake Tahoe, CA, 3. Berlin, NH, 4. Houghton, 5. MI, Ishpeming, MI, 6. Spearfish SD, 7. Sturgis, SD, 8. Boulder, CO, 9. Truckee, CA, 10. Aspen, CO.

The top ten snowiest cities with populations over 50,000 are: 1. Syracuse, NY, 2. Erie, PA, 3. Rochester, NY, 4. Buffalo, NY, 5. Flagstaff, AZ, 6. Utica, NY, 7. Grand Rapids, MI, 8. Duluth, MN, 9. Cleveland, OH, 10. South Bend, IN.

Here is the Weather Channel’s top five snowiest cities with populations over 1000:

I have fond childhood memories of listening to blizzard winds whistling outside my bedroom window on long winter nights, confident in the knowledge that school would be closed the next day. The snow would create huge drifts in our backyard that my siblings and I could dig tunnels through — complete with windows and doors. The building would go on all morning, and we would only come in to warm up with hot cocoa and soup at around lunchtime, our cheeks frozen red, and our feet and hands numb with cold. As soon as we were warmed up, we would be right back at it outside, working on our incredible snow creations all afternoon. There weren’t computers or iPhones in those days, so none of our amazing work was facebooked, tweeted, or snap-chatted. But it lives on in memory.

I currently live in western Missouri, where we have about a one in ten chance of seeing a white Christmas in any given year. Snow is sporadic. It comes and goes pretty quickly, with barely enough time to build a snowman before it starts melting. If you have leaves in your yard, you definitely want to get them cleaned up before the cold weather sets in. Otherwise, you’re going to be seeing the unsightly mess all winter long. In those northern climes, it doesn’t matter how messy with leaves your yard is. Once the snow starts falling, all the yards are made clean.

Of course, there’s such thing as too much of a good thing.

I lived in Minneapolis for five years, where the winter never seemed to end and even Easter was frigid. When you have to bundle up for Easter Mass, and cover your tulips to avoid another massive springtime snowfall, winter has long outworn its welcome. But a warm southern winter with no snow at all is not really for me either.

I prefer a climate that snows enough to ensure a white Christmas, but then has the good sense to go away by March 21 at the latest. 

As an adult, I’ve lived in both Minneapolis, where we had the infamous Halloween “monster blizzard” in 1991, and Mesa, Arizona, where the kids went trick-or-treating in shorts. Missouri falls blandly in the middle of both extremes. Some years, youngsters need a warm jacket for trick-or-treating — sometimes they don’t. Shorts are usually out of the question, though.  If it wasn’t for the usual lack of Christmas snow, it would almost be perfect.