Discover the Snowiest Place Along Lake Michigan

The view from Sugarloaf Mountain, after a snow storm. Marquette Michigan.
© Marissa Jayne Wolfe/

Written by Katie Melynn Wood

Published: February 1, 2024

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In a state known for its snowy winters, there are a few places in Michigan along the Great Lakes that really stand out for the super cold temperatures and amazing amounts of snowfall that they experience each year. For decades, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has been the snowiest city in the United States. But Muskegon, Michigan holds the distinction as the snowiest town along the banks of Lake Michigan.

Average winter temperatures are around 33 degrees Fahrenheit, according to PureMichigan. But even without extreme frigid temps, snowfall still dominates records set in other parts of the state. On average, Muskegon gets around 93 inches of snow each year. The average snowfall for the entire state is around 43 inches for the year.

Which Side of Michigan Gets the Most Snow?

Michigan Winter

While blizzards don’t have the notorious reputation of other destructive weather events like tsunamis and hurricanes, they still wreak some havoc on any region by coating roads with ice and making them slippery and dangerous.

©Susan B. Sheldon/

Generally, the western side of Michigan gets the most snow. This is mostly due to its proximity to Lake Michigan, which borders the state to the west. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which borders Lake Superior and is even further north than the rest of the state, gets even more snow. Some years, this part of the state gets as much as 200 feet of snow. Many of the waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula also freeze during the winter, creating ideal conditions for ice climbing. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is known for its winter sports and activities.

Where Is Michigan’s Snow Belt?

Outer Lighthouse at St. Joseph North Pierhead

Winters are snowy and freezing due to winds from the Great Lakes, making Michigan one of the snowiest regions in the United States.

©Ralf Broskvar/

The area in Michigan that gets the most snow is often referred to as the snow belt. When you look at the average snowfall for the year, the corridor right along the banks of Lake Michigan gets quite a bit more than other parts of Michigan further away from the coast. this occurs because as the air moves easterly over the water, it gains precipitation. When it hits land again, the precipitation falls to the ground in the form of snow, at least when the colder air temperatures in the winter create the perfect conditions.

What Is the “Lake Effect?”

Great Lakes of North America political map. Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Series of large interconnected freshwater lakes on or near the border of Canada and of the United States.

There are five Great Lakes and many share a border with Canada to the north.


According to the National Weather Service, lake-effect snow is common in the winter around all of the Great Lakes. Cold air blows east and south from Canada. When it crosses the warmer water of the Great Lakes (at least warmer relative to the air), moisture enters the atmosphere. This wet, warm air rises and forms clouds. When they reach land and cool again, the moisture falls as snow.

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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