Winter is just getting started, and that means more snow is on the way in the months ahead. But do you know which month is typically the snowiest?
The short answer: It depends on where you live.
Plotted on the map below are 3,980 colored dots, with each color indicating which month is the snowiest at that location based on the most recent 30-year climatological averages (1991-2020) calculated by NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.
In order to be included in the analysis, a location must have recorded at least 20 years with measurable snow (0.1 inches or greater) in the 1991-2020 period, so that excluded much of the southern tier of the U.S. since snowfall there is relatively infrequent.
The map shows December is the snowiest month of the year in parts of the Northwest and Southwest. Winter's first month is also the snowiest in portions of the central U.S., including parts of North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, southern Kansas, northern Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, as well as a small portion of far northern Maine along the U.S.-Canada border.
January, however, is the snowiest month for the majority of the Midwest and East from the mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys to the Great Lakes, Appalachians and interior Northeast. This includes the cities of Chicago; Buffalo, New York; and Nashville, Tennessee.
The first month of the new year also claims the title for the snowiest in portions of eastern Nebraska, eastern and southern Kansas, southern Oklahoma and the Intermountain West.
If you live along the Interstate 95 corridor in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, February is typically your snowiest month, with snowstorms tending to favor a track up the East Coast. Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington all tend to receive the largest chunk of their seasonal snowfall in February.
February is also the snowiest month of the year for portions of the Northern and Central Plains, western Iowa and northwestern Texas. Parts of the mid-South also pick up their most snowfall during February in an average winter.
March, the first month of climatological spring, is the snowiest for much of the Rockies and parts of the adjacent High Plains. This includes Denver, which averages 8.8 inches of snow each March. Gulf of Mexico moisture typically surges farther northward once March arrives, injecting any storm systems with an abundance of moisture that can fall as snow if temperatures are cold enough.
There are even places in the U.S. that average their most snowfall in April when the rest of the nation is getting ready to swap out their sweaters and winter coats for t-shirts and shorts. All of these locations that call April their snowiest month are in the northern or central Rockies and adjacent High Plains. In particular, the Black Hills of South Dakota is a region notorious for very late-season heavy snowstorms.
If you don't like the snow, we recommend not visiting Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, in April – its snowiest month, with an average of 12.4 inches of snow. Residents of Lead, South Dakota, can also claim April as their snowiest month, averaging an astounding 29.2 inches over those 30 days.