The 2 Places Where The Most-Ever Snow Fell in 1 Season

Matthew Oliphant | | BrainsBrains

We know the Pacific Northwest is world-renowned for its exceptional snowfall amounts during the winter months. But, what If I told you there are two spectacular spots that reside in the same state and are within a five-hour drive of each other that have claimed this coveted title before or currently hold it to this day? These sites are Mt. Rainier (Tahoma) and Mt. Baker (Kulshan).

The intense glacial craftsmanship of Mt. Baker (Kulshan) – Photo By Matt Oliphant Photography

Before I go into the details, I want to touch briefly on what sets the stage for an insane amount of snow to fall in a single season (November to April). For starters, you need a substantial elevation prominence of 4000 ft and beyond. Second, the mountain must be in somewhat close proximity to the Pacific Ocean (within ~150 miles or less). Third, the mountain’s position along the crest of the mountain range acts like a barrier and intercepts incoming moisture coming off the pacific ocean. Now that you have a solid understanding of what factors are needed for the perfect storm for these mountains, let’s jump right to it!

Glacial sculpting at work – Photo By Matt Oliphant Photography

This coveted title of the most snowfall used to belong to the tallest stratovolcano in the Cascade Range, which is Mt. Rainier (Tahoma). During the 1971-1972 winter season, a whopping total of 1122 inches (93.5 feet) fell that winter at Paradise Ranger Station. Paradise sits at 5400 ft. To put this into perspective, a solid snowfall season for most high cascade peaks is between 400-600 inches, and anything beyond that would be considered exceptional and way above average.


The calm and serene after a big snowstorm at Mt. Rainier (Tahoma)- Photo By Matt Oliphant Photography

What’s amazing is that it took over 20 years for this record snowfall of 1122 inches to be broken by an additional 18 more inches. The beautiful and striking Mt. Baker (Kulshan) currently holds this coveted record. This record season snowfall took place during the 1998-1999 winter season when 1140 inches (95 ft) of snow fell onto the Mt. Baker ski area. For perspective, this ski area sits at 4200 ft. What is interesting is that the Mt Baker ski area sits at a lower elevation compared to Paradise. A difference of 1200 ft. However, it is positioned farther northeast compared to Paradise, which is set up on the south flank of Mt. Rainier.

To this date, this record still stands. Only time will tell if and when this record is broken. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Where do you think the future single-season snowfall record will take place?

Mt. Baker (Kulshan) in peak spring mode – Photo Credit: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – US Forest Service page


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