We have had some stations report snow that have not reported snow in the past 55 years at sea level. I have read that Tampico, Mexico at 22°N is one of the stations that has recorded snow in the tropics. What is the lowest latitude at which recent snowfall(as recorded by humans) has been recorded at sea level? Please note that the question is very specific to snowfall and not merely the lowest temperature recorded in the tropics (subzero)

The question is hemisphere agnostic.

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "recorded"? If you mean snowfall that was observed by humans and recorded by humans, then Sabre Tooth's answer is a very good one. If you mean snowfall that eventually resulted in equatorial glaciers, with evidence recorded in rock, then the equator itself is the answer (snowball earth). $\endgroup$ Jan 10, 2015 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ Cue tangential fact - but some may not realize... check out Volcán Cayambe in Ecuador... latitude 1 minute north. (Of course you said sea-level, so it's not pertinent, but I figure it educational to some) $\endgroup$ Aug 6, 2018 at 7:10

2 Answers 2


According to the USA Today article Answers archive: Winter, snow, ice, the sea level snow closest to the equator in recorded history are as follows.

The record for either hemisphere was in 1654, in the Chinese city of Nanning (now near present day Beihai) recorded snow, it is situated at 21°29'N. This cold period is included in the article Coherence of climatic reconstruction from historical documents in China by different studies (Ge et al. 2008) as part of a historical document that stated:

‘The winter in the 11th year of Shunzhi (1654 A.D.) was severely cold

For reference, the USA Today article states that the Southern Hemisphere record was considerably further from the equator, occurring in Valparaiso, Chile (33°02'S) in 1977.

One major caveat to this answer (asides from the USAToday source) is the length of time that records have been kept - for China, it has been thousands of years - there is virtually no equivalent record keeping in many areas (particularly in the Southern Hemisphere) for that length of time.

Having said that, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, snow has been recorded in the 1950's and 1960's, several hundred kilometres north of Brisbane, the furthest north was in the Clark Ranges, west of Mackay at a latitude of about 21°S- but these locations were considerably higher than sea level, so do not qualify.

From personal experience, I recall when I lived in the southern suburbs (at sea level) of Melbourne as a child, one winter there was snow - melted as it hit the ground - but that is at a latitude of 38.2°S

In geological history, it could be argued that snow may have preceded the glaciation at the equator during Snowball Earth events, if proven to be true.

  • $\begingroup$ I could not find any records that equaled or bettered the N. Hemisphere record for the S. Hemisphere. Though anecdotally, I recall when I lived in the southern suburbs of Melbourne as a child, one winter there was snow - melted as it hit the ground - but that is at 38.2S $\endgroup$
    – user889
    Jan 10, 2015 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ That could be a separate question - I have added in a caveat to the answer. $\endgroup$
    – user889
    Jan 10, 2015 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ @gansub - The South Pole is approximately at the center of a small continent that is surrounded by large oceans. The North Pole is approximately at the center of a small ocean that is surrounded by large continents. This results in a marked difference in weather patterns in the two hemispheres. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2015 at 9:04
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    $\begingroup$ The question probably refers to 'recent' snow, but there is strong U-Pb dating for the Sturtian glaciation occurring 716.5 million years ago - the 'snowball earth' mentioned by user8989. This was a time of low CO2 and lower solar radiation, when glaciers certainly occurred at the equator. If ice, then surely snow. It was probably just the continents that were covered in glaciers. There are indications that at least some of the oceans were still liquid, albeit mighty cold. $\endgroup$ Oct 2, 2016 at 23:29

Besides the event in 1654 in China, there was a time with snow in Cuba 23N in the 19th century, and in Jan 2016 snow fell near sea level in Taiwan 23N.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have any references to these events? $\endgroup$
    – arkaia
    Oct 3, 2016 at 0:16

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