Texan Lauren Johns ’04 had never seen snow fall before, so she was quite surprised to see the first flurries before Halloween last year.
“I was pretty nervous about the cold weather at first,” Johns said. “But I stocked up on sweaters and I survived.”
As if the transition from high school to college were not hard enough, many students have to make the transition from tropical climates to gloomy New Haven weather.
New Englanders, Canadians, Midwesterners: you already know what to expect. Southerners, Californians, Central Americans: you have some shopping to do.
Do not be deceived by the scorching first weekend of school. You and your parents will haul your stuff up five flights of stairs in 80-degree weather, and when you are sufficiently covered in sweat, they will take you to the bookstore and buy you a fan.
But those 80-degree days are numbered.
Last winter was above-average in terms of snowfall for New Haven; Mother Nature dropped 65-70 inches of the white stuff on the city. The first real snowfall did not occur until Dec. 8, and the last was March 27.
Throughout the year, layering is key. Especially at crowded parties — it can be a sauna indoors.
September is not cold, but can get chillier at night. You will probably want a jean jacket and may need to invest in some close-toed shoes.
“At night, temps can really plummet. Even though it gets quite cold here, we are, believe it or not, one of the balmiest nocturnal spots in New England,” Yale Daily News Weatherman Dan Alexander ’02 said. “The urban heat island effect and moderating influence from the water often keep us much warmer than sheltered inland locations.”
By the end of October, it will probably be coat time. Pea coats and puffers seem to be prevalent among Yalies for the duration of the winter. If you have not made the switch from flip-flops to boots by November 1, your toes will be frostbitten.
Around this time, start setting your alarm ten minutes earlier. You’ll need the extra time to put on all of your layers: hats, gloves and scarves.
From December through March, the average temperature will be in the 30s, not including wind chill. Dorms are well heated, though classrooms are less consistent — sometimes you will sweat in your undershirt during a lecture, and sometimes you will shiver in your coat.
It will be gray, rainy and dreary many days, but New Haven weather is not truly as bad as its reputation.
“For all the complaining you hear about snow in the winter, the truth is that New Haven receives significantly more rain than snow — or other forms of frozen precipitation: sleet, freezing rain — during the winter months,” Alexander said.
Use caution when walking in the snow. Salt and sand help with traction, but melting snow is dangerous, especially after a few drinks.
Though they call it “spring break,” Old Campus will probably not be green when you return from the Bahamas. In fact, Connecticut suffered a severe snowstorm of approximately 12-15 inches during last year’s spring break, and low temperatures continued to plague New Haven residents well past the vernal equinox.
Spring is well worth the wait, however. By the last week of classes, temperatures should reach 70 and you can take your dusty tank tops out of the back of your closet. Old Campus will be covered with sunbathers and frisbee players rather than snowmen and icicles.
The first winter will be rough, but it cannot last forever. It will make you a stronger person.
If Yale were in Hawaii, anyone could get a degree. You are stronger than they are — keep telling yourself that.