These 7 Cities Can Actually Handle a Snowstorm: The Toughest Towns in America

We lesser mortals are beginning to lose hope. Winter Storm Pax hit the Northeast this week, leaving many of us to wonder if we can take much more of this. Between our lingering PTSD from the polar vortex and Valentine's Day, this is shaping up to be the the worst winter ever to be single.

But some people are tougher than all that. If you live in one of these seven cities, you’ll probably make it through relatively unscathed. As far as we can tell, these towns all handle snowstorms like absolute professionals.

To measure who's toughest, we looked at both the average annual snowfall for cities across the U.S., and (with the help of this handy map created by Redditor atrubetskoy) the average amount of snow it typically takes for schools to close. Along with a little extra digging into how cities cope with storms on a more personal level, we're pretty confident that these are the toughest towns out there.

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7. Chicago

Average annual snowfall: 37.1 inches.

Amount of snow required for a school closing: 24 inches.

The Windy City does a terrific job on the snow-removal front, especially when it comes to making sure the streets are plowed and accessible (not like New York after Snowpocalypse 2010).

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6. Boston

Average annual snowfall: 43.8 inches

Amount of snow required for a school closing: 12 inches

During last year’s Winter Storm Nemo (we found him!), Governor Deval Patrick ordered the first statewide driving ban in Massachusetts since the Blizzard of 1978. You know they’re not messing around when they only issue a driving ban once every 25 years.

In Boston, the snowy season pretty much lasts from October to May. April Fool’s Day blizzards are the norm, and schools don’t tend to shut down unless they absolutely have to.

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5. Minneapolis

Average annual snowfall: 54.4 inches

Amount of snow required for a school closing: 24 inches

Snow emergencies may be fairly common in Minneapolis, but its residents are surprisingly blasé about them. So what if you’re living in a constant state of emergency? As resident Meredith Pearson recently said, “It’s just part of living in Minnesota, you know. You get used to it.” Bring it on, Pax.

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4. Portland, ME

Average annual snowfall: 61.8 inches

Amount of snow required for a school closing: 12 inches

Like Boston, Portland got hit pretty hard by Nemo last year, with 31.9 inches of snow — half the state’s annual average — blanketing the city.

But here’s something sure to warm a book-loving heart: When a beloved local bookstore, Longfellow Books, sustained major damage, the whole community banded together to help repair the store and reopen it. It has bounced back wonderfully, so if you find yourself in the area, be sure to check it out.

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3. Rochester, NY

Average annual snowfall: 99.5 inches

Amount of snow required for snow day: 24 inches

Apparently, there is such a thing as a Golden Snow Globe Competition. It pits the country’s snowbound cities up against each other for the title of Snowiest City in America. Rochester is currently in the top five, but its residents seem to be treating the somewhat dubious honor in the same way that Minneapolis’ denizens do. “You’ve got to pay for it,” Rochester resident named Tim McGrath recently said, “but in the winter, the lake is spectacular.” Worth it?

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2. Boulder, CO

Average annual snowfall: 88.3 inches

Amount of snow required for snow day: 24 inches

Here’s what the Boulder Valley School District has to say about school closings: “Under all but the most extreme conditions, school officials have a responsibility to keep school in session. When the weather is bad but school is open, parents must make a family decision regarding attendance or late arrival for their children. A personal contact by the parent or a written note to school officials will excuse a student’s late arrival or absence during these conditions. You can come, or you stay home, but we’re going to carry on regardless. Your choice, your loss.”

Now that’s dedication. Also, sucks to be a kid there.

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1. Park City, UT

Average annual snowfall: 143 inches in town, 350 inches at resort spots

Amount of snow required for a snow day: 24 inches

A venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City is also where the Sundance Film Festival is held. And in case you missed it, let me repeat: The average annual snowfall in town is 135 inches, while at the resorts, they get a whopping 350 inches. You don’t live there unless you’re not afraid of winter weather.

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