Flagstaff is an outdoor enthusiasts’ dream destination, offering everything from hiking and mountain biking to skiing and snowboarding. At 7,000 feet above sea level, its weather provides perfect conditions for all of these pursuits – cool in summer but snowy winter.
But just how much snow does Flagstaff typically receive each month and year? Below is an estimate of snowfall amounts across both months.
1. December – January
Northern Arizona was hit hard with winter storms this year, producing record breaking snowfall totals and total daily accumulation of over 200 inches of snow. According to data analyzed by the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff office, this meteorological winter (from December 1st until February 28th) ranked fifth highest ever seen here based on snow depth measurements taken over 24 days (the latter measure how deep snow covers an area).
Snowfall was so severe, however, that it rendered travel nearly impossible in much of Flagstaff and surrounding communities. Schools cancelled distance learning classes. City crews spent much of the time clearing roads and sidewalks – this included 700 lane miles, 8 miles of alleys, 270 miles of sidewalks, 42 miles of bike lane and 27,000 driveways! Equipment made multiple passes through Flagstaff to clear or plow all these surfaces.
On average, heavy years in Chicago see over 27 inches of snowfall during December and slightly less than 20 inches during January. But this year has been different; Chicago hasn’t experienced such snowy months since 1948! To date, they have received 118.9 inches from December through January – 14 inches more than their previous best mark set back in 2009-10!
2. February – March
Arizona may not come to mind as being known for snow, but certain regions do receive heavy accumulation each winter – particularly at higher elevations like northern and southeastern Arizona.
Flagstaff stands out among these places due to being the snowiest city in Arizona. It regularly receives over 100 inches of snow every winter, making it a prime location for skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities.
The snowstorm that hit northwestern Arizona from Wednesday evening through Thursday was unprecedented, blanketing cities in an inch or more of fluffy white stuff and shutting down parts of Interstate 40, forcing schools to close, and leading to road closures in the high country. KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bo Svoma took an account of just how much snowfall occurred during this extraordinary event.
Svoma’s snow survey discovered that in just one day alone, Flagstaff amassed more snow than either Chicago or New York City typically get annually! And that wasn’t all! Flagstaff still managed to accumulate even more than expected over time!
At Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, snowfall has already exceeded February and March averages, placing it second only to 1948-49’s record-setting July-March total measured by the National Weather Service Bellemont office.
3. April – June
Winter Storm Quiana brought with it record snowfall totals across Arizona’s high country, dropping more than two feet of fresh powder in some places. According to the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff office, these amounts nearly reached record levels for the month of January since 1898 when records began being kept.
Flagstaff usually experiences an average of 1.7 days annually when snowfall exceeds one inch a day, leading to major blizzards that deposit more than 10 inches of fresh powder within a single 24-hour period. Such storms create treacherous road conditions, potentially leading to travel delays and accidents on one of Arizona’s major freeway arteries.
Rain was the predominant form of precipitation from March 20 to December 2, while mixed precipitation (rain and snow) dominated for 2.9 months from January 31 to April 20.
Salt Lake City and Denver typically experience their final snowfall around April 23; however, due to unique climate conditions in northern Arizona, Flagstaff often gets an early taste of spring before other cities do.
4. July – September
This page provides a convenient way of tracking when and how much snowfall Flagstaff typically experiences, both monthly and yearly totals of snowfall as well as days it snowed at least 0.1 inches.
Snowfall totals come from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport and use weather data dating back to 1991. Snowy days vary widely with January and February usually experiencing twice as much snow than November and December.
At an average of 10.3 days, July sees the second-highest snowy average day total after February and is often marked by a major blizzard that brings at least 10 inches of snowfall over an extended period of time.
Flagstaff often experiences snowfall in October. Many areas from the Rockies to northern Plains and Great Lakes to Northeast have recorded their record-early snowfall for that month.
This winter has already been extremely wet and snowy in northern Arizona, being the fifth snowiest meteorological winter since records began in the late 1800s.