The Truth About Winter In Minnesota

In my travels, when people outside of the state think of Minnesota, they think of the winter here. They often wonder why we would choose to live in a place where the threat (and reality) of snow and cold is present from October to April. Believe me, there are days in the thick of the season where I wonder the same.

That said, there is much to love about living here in the winter and it is not nearly as bad as one who has never done so may think. Here are some truths (my truths, at least) about winter in Minnesota. My hope is that revealing these will help to set the naysayers and otherwise suspicious straight.

  • It can be very pretty. The first snowstorm especially. I live in a neighborhood still very full of late 19th century Victorian style homes. A nice snowfall, especially the first big one of the season, is like living in a Currier and Ives painting.

  • Below a certain temperature, I find that all cold feels pretty much the same. For instance, it is really difficult for many of us to tell the difference between -10 degrees below zero and -30 degrees below zero. It’s just plain cold and one should dress appropriately.

  • One learns that layers of clothing are your friend. It is the difference between comfortable and cold on most winter days. For instance, today I wore a short sleeve tee under a long sleeve one with a full-zip lightweight fleece underneath a soft shell jacket. Four layers for those keeping score. That way, if I got a bit too warm, I could remove a layer and thus cool the temp I felt down by 5-25 degrees depending on the layer(s) I removed.

  • The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, where I live, are pretty well designed for it. There are many people, in fact, who rarely step foot in the cold for more than a few minutes a day. They wake in the morning, go into their attached and heated garage, get in their warm car, and drive to work. Once there they park in a heated parking garage, walk through the skyways — that connect most downtown buildings — to lunch, and then drive home. They never, actually, have gone outside. It could be -40 below and they would never feel it.

  • Furthermore, along this same theme, our local and state snow snowplows are seasoned experts at keeping the roads passable in almost any circumstances. They are out in force at the first sign of coming bad weather. Parking regulations take effect during heavier “snow emergencies” so that roads can be cleared and salted with amazing efficiency.

  • One learns how to drive in snow and ice if you live here through a winter or two (though, you will hear many an expert longtime Minnesota driver complain that it takes far too many too long to remember). You learn to leave a bit more distance between you and the vehicle ahead. To de-accelerate by lifting your foot from the pedal and waiting a second or two before applying the breaks gently. Or how to correct a spin out from happening by doing the opposite of what your natural instincts may tell you.

  • Of course, there are also plenty of winter activities to make the most of it. Skating, skiing, hockey, snowshoeing, etc. The options abound and all are a good time.

The point of all of this is that, while it is not my favorite season of the year, Minnesota is perfectly livable during the winter. I invite you to experience it for yourself sometime. Look me up and, if time allows, I’d be happy to show you around.

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