Sort of an extension of

With minimal terraforming, what features/structures would need to be built to protect a 25mi radius city from wind?

but with some more items to consider.

For whatever reason, a small city pops up in a cold region with constant snowstorms. The climate and terrain are similar to that of the Antarctic, only with more severe weather. It snows at least every other day, and wind is high. Naturally, people who reside in the city want to protect themselves from the severe weather, and want to be able to live a relatively comfortable life inside this city. They:

  • Possess post-modern technology (things that are feasible by 2050)
  • Have access to enough resources and manpower to complete this project, whatever it is
  • Have access to reliable electricity
  • Have built their city on ice covered but solid ground
  • are numbered at 100,000
  • have built this city in a 25 km sq area, in a relatively flat area.

They want to build something, or set up a series of systems or infrastructures to make the following possible:

  • Temperatures inside the city is higher than outside (the higher the better)
  • roads can be easily kept clear of excess snow
  • wind is minimized inside the city
  • pedestrians and motorists should be able to get around with regular winter gear (heavy coats, ATV's, snowmobiles), not specialized gear like the type that would be used in arctic expeditions.

Assuming they don't have to worry about food, water, or other things that an Antarctic settlement might need, how can they accomplish this goal efficiently? The criteria for efficiency are as follows (in order of importance):

  1. Energy cost is kept to a minimum
  2. Maintenance/manpower required to maintain is kept low
  3. It would be good if less resources are spent to complete the project
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_City,_Montreal $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 5:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Could you be more specific about "constant" snowstorms? Is there a summer when all snow melts? Is there high wind, high snowfall, or both? In Antarctica, by the way, snowfall is light, but winds could be very strong. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ Why fight it? Market the place as a ski resort :-) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 17:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I was going to comment, "Have you been to Canada?" but @Karl beat me to it $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Draco18s Haven't actually. Looking forward to, though. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 18:53

4 Answers 4


You do not have to build underground to have a city where it snows.
Behold Minneapolis.

enter image description here from http://www.captureminnesota.com/photos/1337765

Minneapolis clears its streets and deals with heavy snow using snowplows. They pile all the snow up next to the frozen river.

Minneapolis averages 55 inches of snow a year. Yes, Buffalo NY averages 95. But Minneapolis has skyways. They cover 18 km. You can go all over, in the light, and never go outside.
enter image description here from http://blog.radissonblu.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/image-1.jpg

enter image description here

It is not scifi. Let Paul tell you about the skyway .


Rather than constantly fighting against constant snow and ice, they better build their city underground:

  • rock provide a better thermal insulation from the outside cold temperatures and winds and also reduce the yearly thermal excursion, minimizing the energy needed to keep the temperature at livable values
  • not having to worry about constantly cleaning roads and roofs from snow and ice will reduce maintenance efforts
  • the rock removed from the excavation can also be reused as bricks or building material for the city itself, reducing waste.

If they have a reliable energy source they can use solar lamps to solve the lack of sun exposure.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ They build their city on ice if I understand it correctly - also it would make more sense given the premise. So we would need a city inside a glacier (or something similar). This is a really cool idea, but I think harder to implement for many reasons $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 8:05

Building underground as mentioned above would be the best long term protection, yet it will be costly and time consuming in the building Phase. If you want to have your city on the surface, build wind breaking mechanisms or Channel the wind and use it for the city's advantage driving e.g. large turbines producing energy for you city. In this way you get two advantages in one action.


Constant snowstorms would actually not really happen. If the city is permanently frozen, there will be almost no snowfall at all (think Antarctica with 150mm of precipitation a year, while Aomori City has almost 8 metres yearly).

But let's consider that constant snowfall and snowstorms do happen in your world. I'd say build underground, but nobody wants to live like a mole. So, build a dome over the city? And pull heating wires all around the dome to melt all the snow that falls on it to prevent it from collapsing, along with canals and trenches around the city leading to a nearby river/lake. Of course, such a project would be majorly expensive.

Maybe the walls and pavement throughout the city have some sort of heater in them, and since a snowstorm includes strong winds, it can be wind-powered. This would get rid of accumulating snow, but wouldn't prevent it from still falling on people's heads. High tech carbon fiber umbrellas that can withstand storm winds?

By 2050, technology might advance by unimaginable amounts. 30 years ago, iPods and Gameboys were considered high-end tech. In another 30 years, who knows what we'll have. So you can create a cloud-busting missile, laser, gas, w/e that prevents the snowfall from even happening. A super-sonic tower that uses some sci-fi tech to disperse clouds?


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