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Posted: 3-28-12

Question: What is the economic impact of snow?

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On average, 105 snow producing storm systems hit the lower 48 United States each year, imposing substantial economic damages in terms of removal costs, lost retail trade, lost wages, and lost tax revenue, delays in ground and air transportation, flood damage during snowmelt, damage to crops and livestock, accidents, injuries, and loss of life due to hazardous conditions. According to a report prepared for NOAA’s National Operational Hydrological Remote Sensing Center:

  • Extreme cold temperatures and winter storms in 1999 caused 74 fatalities, 444 injuries, $64 million dollars in property damage, and $155.5 million in crop damages. 
  • Average cost of snow removal for streets and highways in the United States exceeds $2 billion annually.
  • Direct cost to airlines of flight delays from runway and airport closures (some of which are from winter storms) exceeds $3.2 billion annually. 
 Snow also plays a significant role in the United States tourism economy. 
  • Winter tourism in just a few U.S. states adds up to more than $7.9 billion dollars a year. 
  • The value of coldwater for fishing in three areas of the United States is more than $2.3 billion dollars per year.


  • Report prepared for NOAA’s National Operational Hydrological Remote Sensing Center, Chanhassen, MN, under contract DG1330-03-SE-1097

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