Top 10 Snowiest Major Cities Around the World

By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
March 03, 2014; 10:54 AM
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The illuminated old City Hall of Leipzig, Germany, made of tons of ice, looms over spectators at Sapporo, northern Japan, in the evening of Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

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 10 cities are ranked based on how many inches they receive per year.

9. Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.

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. McKinley would die of his wounds days later; Vice President Theodore Roosevelt would then take up the presidency.

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. The North Star newspaper was created by famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Douglass, always striving to expand upon his education, taught himself how to read and write.

7. Akita, Tōhoku, Japan

Located west 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. The region also features the famous Akita Castle built in 733 A.D.

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. The city is home to Syracuse University, which ranked number two on AccuWeather's list for top 10 snowiest colleges. Quebec City is the second-largest city in Quebec province with a population of 491,140 people. It is one of the oldest cities in North America, and features a mix of museums and cultural attractions that celebrate the city's rich European heritage.

Kylie Potrikns, 9, takes a position on top of what may be the biggest snowball in the world on the Syracuse University campus in Syracuse, N.Y., Saturday, Feb. 19, 2005. As part of the university's winter carnival, students, faculty, staff and the greater Syracuse community worked throughout the day building a snowball that will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest snowball ever made currently held by Nicole Pharo of the United Kingdom at 5 feet, 3 inches in diameter. Results of the record-breaking attempt will be known in several weeks. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

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.

Note: All research was conducted utilizing data and referrals from AccuWeather's team of meteorologists and from information obtained from the Japan Meteorological Agency and The Weather Network. The top 10 snowiest cities in the world were selected based on populations totaling more than 100,000 people. Because of varying snow depth records around the world, some information was not available.

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