The change from summer to fall was easy to feel. Goodbye sandals, hello riding boots. The transition to winter was a little challenging to pick up on this year. At times, it seemed as though Mother Nature couldn’t decide what she wanted to do.
Every student can relate to me when I say that gearing up for a Plattsburgh winter is something that takes some getting used to. I’ve definitely heard more than one person compare the winters in Plattsburgh to the climate of Antarctica at some point.
I’ve ever experienced only one “Plattsburgh winter,” and for me, it wasn’t anything new. Being an upstate native, the freezing temperatures, ice and snow are all just part of the deal, but this year has left me a little confused.
Don’t make the mistake of telling someone that you’re cold before the first snowfall because you’re almost guaranteed to be told, “If you think this is bad, wait until winter!”
Our campus community is a bit obsessed with the season. Plattsburgh State even has a section of its website dedicated to the “cold hard facts” of winters in Plattsburgh. You can see information including the coldest month on average, the record low and average precipitation.
There’s a lot of anticipation leading up to the seasons changing, and sometimes it’s easy to expect the worst when you’re told just how severe the winters in Plattsburgh can be.
You’ll never know what to expect because every year is different. Some people rely on scientifically calculated predictions, others on their own senses and some can even use things from nature, like the woolly caterpillar legend — the belief that a caterpillar can predict the weather.
My mom checks the “Farmers Almanac,” so I decided to do some research to see if this year’s mild winter was predicted. According to the almanac, “Winter will be colder and snowier than normal in the north, with near-normal temperatures and below-normal snowfall in the south.”
Whether you chose to believe things like that is up to you, but as far as I’m concerned the winter isn’t off to a good start. If the “expected” snow doesn’t actually appear in late March it won’t break my heart.
The average precipitation is significantly lower than usual, which, for Plattsburgh, during the months of January and February, is between 1.79 and 1.48 inches, according to weather.com. With January behind us, the precipitation isn’t off to bad start, but most of it came from only one storm.
I remember the snow storm during finals week of the fall 2014 semester and walking to class with a what seemed to be a million layers of sweaters and jackets on. The walk to Redcay for my last final was the longest walk of my life. I arrived 10 minutes late and soaked.
Walking to class without a hat or mittens was an extremely rare occurrence last winter, and the walks home on the weekends were down right miserable. This year, I can count on two hands how many times my hat or mittens have left the hook on my door.
The coldest month for the Plattsburgh area is January, with an average high of 27 degrees and a low of 10 degrees, according to weather.com. It was 71 degrees on December 24.
I can’t remember the last Christmas Eve I was able to trade my sweater for a short sleeved shirt.
In December 2015, there were 24 days with average temperatures that was above 40 degrees, compared to the seven days from the same month in 2014. Having warmer than normal weather at the beginning of the season only makes the colder days seem more miserable in my opinion, but I’ll deal.
I’ve never hated winter but this year might be one of my favorites so far. With that said, I’m definitely not immune to the cold, and I’m not saying that we haven’t had a couple days in the past few weeks that we’re down right freezing because we have. After the blizzard that hit during finals week of fall 2014, I think we all were happy to see sunshine at the end of last semester.
My imaginary snowshoes are collecting dust, and I couldn’t be happier.
It is now February, and you should still take precautionary measures to protect yourself from the elements. If you haven’t already, invest in a good pair of mittens and a warm hat because we still have a lot of “winter” left.
Email Madison Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org