COLORADO, USA — There’s a winter competition going on right now that likely few people are following, because it has nothing to do with the Olympics: What are the snowiest towns in the United States?
There are usually several Colorado towns in contention, including Denver in the Big City category, but this season the La Niña weather pattern is shifting the odds.
The following lists only use towns with official National Weather Service observations.
POPULATION AT LEAST 500
In the category of snowiest towns with a population of at least 500 people, Colorado usually fields several contenders, but so far there are only two Colorado towns on the list.
At about the midway point of the season, it’s Tahoma, California in gold medal position. Thanks to a huge storm cycle in December, the town got 114 inches of snow in three weeks.
Crested Butte got hit by the same storm and got 99.5 inches of snow. It was Crested Butte's snowiest December since 1983.
The lake effect snow engine has been strong coming from Lake Erie this season, which has placed three New York towns in the top 10.
There has been very little snow over the past three weeks in California and Crested Butte, giving some other towns a chance to close the gap. Winter Park rarely has a season with less than 200 inches in total.
Missing from the list are some big contenders from Colorado. Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Breckenridge and Vail are all having slow seasons so far. Vail is running close to three feet below average.
ALASKA and the UPPER PENINSULA
It should be noted that Alaska and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan were not included in the previous list because, well, they’re just on another level altogether.
When included, towns there make up eight of the top 10.
POPULATION AT LEAST 100,000
This category is usually dominated by upstate New York, and Buffalo currently leads, with snowfall close to average for this time of year.
Remember that Boulder won this category in the 2019-20 season, with 152 inches of snow. Boulder is about 10 inches below average so far this year, but is typically a strong finisher toward the end, with March and April their two snowiest months.
BIG CITY - POPULATION AT LEAST 500,000
Denver is on average one of the snowiest big cities in America -- defined by a population of at least 500,000 in the metropolitan area. The Mile High City has even won the gold medal several times, including last season, when 80.7 inches were measured, beating Buffalo by about 4 inches.
This year has been a major disappointment for Denver so far, ranking only sixth with 25.7 inches. And that's using the total from the Central Park station. Using the official measurement from Denver International Airport, there would only be 21.7 inches, which would put the city in ninth place.
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