Winter wisdom… OR… Stuff I didn’t know about the snow

What to expect

The day after a snowstorm is almost always one of stunning blue skies and sunshine.


The quiet of the snowfall is quickly disturbed by the scraping, dumping, reversing, and engines of the snowploughs and snow blowers (think chainsaw-level decibels).

Snow removal


Snow days (ie: campus closed) are indeed every bit as glorious as I imagined them to be.

Unless you are stuck at an airport trying to fly home. Then it sucks big time.

A university-wide announcement that classes are cancelled tomorrow is code for every undergraduate to throw a house party and get drunk.

Text messages

Every day that is cancelled or shortened due to winter weather, public schools have to make up. This means either Saturday morning classes, or staying in school for extra days (or weeks) in May.  Who’s laughing now?

Health and Safety

Fire hydrants all have a long pole attached so that the facilities workers can locate them and dig them out.



It is not advisable to stand underneath the eaves of buildings. Falling snow, sheets of ice, and pointy icicles are all waiting to drop on you.


Parking lots are the most lethally slippery places on earth.

It is common for people to suffer heart attacks when shoveling snow.


 Due to cold air passing beneath them, bridges, raised freeway exits and pedestrian overpasses accumulate more ice and therefore are more dangerous than roads and footpaths at ground level.


 Some tips for driving long-distance in winter I didn’t know include:

  • A brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna or a piece of cloth placed at the top of a rolled up window signals distress
  • You should make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud or else you are susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Parking lot (lack-of-honor) code.

Once you dig your car out of the snow in the campus parking lot, you move your car at own peril.  Incoming drivers will take your spot and then you will have to dig out another one in order to park your car when you get home.

Car park steal


Really cold weather and cool (or stupid) experiments

A polar vortex is one of those rare weather events you should be willing to miss in your lifetime. Trust me on this.

Polar Vortex

When a polar vortex strikes, putting boiling water in a pan and throwing it into the air can create instant snow.   Or to create your own snow gun put boiling water in a super soaker.  (If you click on any links in this post, click on these).

Be warned – this is likely to lead to a trip to the emergency room 

New England’s Superiority

If you can’t distinguish between sleet and freezing rain you reveal yourself as an outsider in New England.

Diagram of sleet and rain

New England mocks the rest of the country for the ways they cope, or rather don’t cope, with minimal amounts of snow or ice. “The city has run out of salt? Ha! What sort of circus are they running down there?”

This map will show you how many inches of snow need to fall in order to cancel classes.

School cancelling snowfall limits

Fun Stuff

Here is a Go Pro video of students sledding on Horsebarn Hill on the side of the university campus mid February.

And here is a photo gallery of gorgeous snowflakes underneath the microscope.


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