What’s the Difference Between East and West Coast Snow?

Sure, there are noticeable differences in weather from coast to coast, but have you ever thought about how the snow differs? That’s right, the snow on the east coast is in no way similar to snow on the west coast! The two American coasts experience either dry snow or wet snow during winter, and it’s all because of elevation and proximity to the ocean.

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East Coast
The eastern coast of the United States gets moisture for snow from the Atlantic Ocean. In popular skiing locations like Vermont, that’s only about 200 miles away. The closeness of the ocean means there is a lot of moisture in the air, which is why the snow on the east coast is wet and heavy. Sometimes the densely filled snowflakes melt before they even make contact with the ground, so they end up falling as raindrops. In Vermont, the elevation is approximately 2,500 feet and the average snowfall amount in major Vermont skiing city, Killington, is 250 inches every year.

West Coast
The west coast’s snow is different in almost every way. The moisture contained in the snow comes from the Pacific Ocean, but to get to snowy locations like Colorado, that moisture has to travel over 1,000 miles and through coastal mountain ranges. There is less moisture in the air when the snow reaches Colorado, which is why the snow is described as dry and fluffy. The elevation here is over 12,000 feet, and in the skiing mecca of Vail, CO, the average snowfall is 354 inches per year.

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Meteorologist Sam Champion has more on the snowy comparison here:


In conclusion, snow changes according to moisture levels and elevation, so the two coasts of America see very contrasting types of snow! Both variations have a distinct feel when skiing or snowboarding on the east coast snow vs. the west coast snow… which would you prefer? Dry and fluffy or wet and heavy?


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9 Comments


  1. Last year the 36 inch snowfall was super. I’d like to see more of that in Eastern PA. Can anyone share theirs?

  2. Good article, but Colorado is not the west coast , that would be Washington , Oregon , California .

  3. I think I could live without snow on either coast! Hee hee Give me 80, muggy and sunny. That’s my best operating temperature….and here I am, in Albany, NY. We only get about a month to 2 months of weather like that.

    1. Be careful what you wish for, I live in FL (not because I want to, I’m stuck here), and the 80’s soon turn into muggy 90’s with a feels like temp. over 100. Five months of that gets real old real fast.

      1. A temperate climate this time of year would be most welcome with steady 60’s and 70’s would be great. It’s bone chilling cold here in NNY now so I wouldn’t mind your 70’s and 80’s now. In the summer time, being in NNY is fine.