Tips for Surviving Pittsburgh’s Super Inconsistent Weather

If you’ve ever been to Pittsburgh, you know that the weather here is no joke.  It’s hard to deal with its spontaneous thunderstorms and temperatures that can change up to 30 degrees in one day.  In the spring there always seems to be some form of precipitation falling from the sky, the summers might have a full week of nonstop rain, fall is unpredictable as hell, and with winter comes that lovely gray slush on the ground.  With taking so many classes all day, it’s not always easy to run home and change into the appropriate clothing for that day’s weather, and we’ve all ended up sitting in a classroom soaking wet, sweating, or chilled to the bone.  Here are some tips for dealing with Pittsburgh’s crazy weather:


By now you’ve probably experienced those awful showers that creep up on you minutes after you’ve already left the house for class.  You’re stuck at an awkward distance where you’re too far from home to go back and get a raincoat but not close enough to your building to miss the rain, so you get to class completely soaked.  There’s nothing worse than sitting through a long lecture with dripping hair and soaked-through jeans.  Unless I am 100% sure that there will be clear skies all day long I always have an umbrella in my backpack.  The little bit of extra weight is nothing compared to being miserably wet.  It’s definitely come in handy when I didn’t even realize I would need it. 

Layers, layers, layers

Some days, no matter what season it is, the temperature can range up to 30 degrees in one day.  My day starts in the 40s for my 9:30 class and creeps up to 75 for my 4pm class.  I don’t always have time to go home with other classes in between, so layering is the best option on those days.  Jeans are usually a good bet and won’t get uncomfortable when the temp goes up, or wearing a dress is easy with a pair of tights underneath for the morning. (And you can always slip them off in the bathroom between classes) Usually I like to wear a tank top or short sleeve shirt and throw a cardigan and scarf or a chunky sweater on top.  I stay warm on my brisk morning walk, but won’t be sweating in my 1pm class located in one of the nationality rooms. (If you’ve ever had class in one, you understand my pain.)

Invest in Snow Boots

It’s really worth it.  The snow tends to pile up all at once in the winter and navigation gets tricky.  Freshman year I didn’t get snow boots and thought I’d be fine with rain boots and other shoes.  In reality I had the hardest time getting around easily.  Being in a city means the snowplows have limited places to push the snow, so it becomes a giant obstacle.  Snow boots are also a lot warmer than any other shoes so you’ll actually stay warm. 

Prepare for the Worst

I’m talking rain boots, hats, raincoats, sunglasses, a cardigan, etc.  It’s really not worth risking getting your new black leather Chelsea boots wet because you weren’t sure if it was going to rain that day.  It’s also not worth sitting in class with goosebumps or blindly squinting into the sun between classes.  What’s the worst that could happen with packing a few extra things? You may end up looking a little silly if it ends up never raining and you clunked around in rain boots all day, or you carried a jacket or cardigan on your arm because it didn’t get as chilly as you thought, but with this weather you never know when you’ll be thanking yourself for going a little extra. 

Plan Ahead

The biggest help that I give myself is planning my outfit the night before when I have time.  Sometimes you hit your snooze button too many times and realize your class starts in 10 minutes.  That’s usually when I end up dressing too warm or too cold for the day.  If you plan your outfit ahead of time you’ll see that the weather calls for rain, so you can make sure you know where your rain boots are in advance.  Or you might see that the temperature is going to be 15 degrees colder tomorrow and you can unpack one of your warm sweaters that’s stored away under your bed. 


Obviously these tips aren’t foolproof, but if you’re someone that’s super sensitive to weather like myself, it makes a huge difference throughout day.  So take a few seconds to check your weather app and run back upstairs to grab your umbrella because Pittsburgh’s weather is tricky. 


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