Is it true that a coastal area is less likely to see snow compared with inland area nearby? If so, what are the reasons?

  • $\begingroup$ It depends. The coastal side of mountains may see more snow (because more precipitation) than the inland sides, such as between Norway and Sweden. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jul 19 '17 at 9:20

I don't know if someone has conducted statistical research on this. It certainly depends on the situation. Here are some situations:

More snow in coast

  • Like @gerrit commented, elevation increases precipitation as air is forced to lift up and thus cools condensing water vapor -> rain/snow. This is true when predominant winds are from the sea.

  • Lake-effect snow situations

Less snow in coast

  • The air temperatures are affected by nearby bodies of water so situations where temperatures are freezing, but the sea isn't frozen yet will keep the coastal temperatures higher. Thus melting falling and fallen snow faster than in inland.
  • $\begingroup$ This is the right answer, but maybe you can add some more explanation and examples. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jul 19 '17 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ I like to keep it simple. $\endgroup$ – Communisty Jul 20 '17 at 6:19

To add to Communnisty but too long for comment:

In general, open water with moderate temperatures, make them a bit cooler in summer or in tropics than otherwise would be likely, warmer in winter and in far north/south and where in the ocean currents a location is matters, but as a generality these statements are true. So, in an area that is marginal for snow temperatures, say Seattle, they will receive less coastal snow because of the warmer temps. Once you drop below the marginal temperature, say Mount Baker or Mount Rainier, still in the coastal moisture increase zone but higher altitude to push consistently below freezing in the winter, you have snow. Lots and lots of it.


The warmer the air, the greater the water vapor pressure. So the heaviest snowfalls occur where and when it is as warm as possible without the snow melting --- just barely below freezing. If average temperatures are above freezing, temperatures being too high limits snow, and snow is more likely and heavier inland, away from the water whose high heat capacity moderates temperatures. If average temperatures are far below freezing, low water vapor pressure limits snow, and snow is more likely and heavier at the coast.


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