Rochester Winter: A Survival Guide


If you have never lived in a place with weather similar to Rochester's, you probably don’t know what to expect for these upcoming winter months. So far, the weather has been sporadic at best, and flipping between the 60s and 80s has been an odd experience for new people. The dead of winter is something completely different from what's happening now; the cold and snow is constant and unyielding. Last year wasn’t an accurate representation of New York’s usual winter, so out-of-town sophomores may be just as lost as the freshmen. Having a 60 degree day in December was kind of nice of course, but that is definitely not to be expected as we approach October.


This year, I expect snow in November, possibly late October, along with negative temperatures by late December. Fall lasts for about a month in upstate New York, so it’s time to act fast. Here’s what you need to know to survive a Rochester Winter.



Pictured above is precisely what you should not be buying for winter. Despite its appearance, it is not warm. It is thin, it’s not wind-resistant, and it doesn’t cover any part of your legs. The length of your coat is, surprisingly, something many people forget to account for. Trust me, sitting on an icy bench when it’s 10 degrees and snowing outside is something you need to consider. Plus, jeans do not offer much warmth or protection from bone-chilling winds. You’ll be thankful for the extra layer.



Pictured above is closer to what you should be looking for. A thick down coat is the best thing I’ve worn in recent years. If you invest in a thicker, marshmallow-resembling, long coat now, you won’t need to buy another one for years. It’s tempting to cheap out on a $25 coat, but it won’t do its job. Spend the $100-$150, it’s a worthwhile investment.


They're ugly. They’re clunky. They’re necessary. Thick boots with  a warm inner layer and a rubber outer layer is your best bet against the snow. Again, invest in these. You will not be a happy camper with $40 boots and cold, wet feet for four months. You can get them at L.L. Bean, Columbia, or North Face.



I love winter for a lot of reasons. The snow is romantic, the Christmas movies are heartwarming, and there are beanies everywhere! No matter if your style is more tomboy, skater, or girly, you can find a beanie. Although I love how cute they are, they’re also a necessity. Besides being great to keep your hair dry in the snow, they also keep your ears from getting cold. It sounds like a small thing, but I guarantee you, it’s not. Being outside on a windy, -15 degree day can really make you feel like your ears will fall off.


Gloves may sound like a frilly, unnecessary thing, but they’re not. I hail from Syracuse, New York, and I suffer from extremely dry hands. If you forget to wear gloves even once, you’ll have cracked, dry hands for at least a few days. You also cannot get thin gloves, because the wind is what really makes your hands dry, and it'll cut right through those. Buy plush gloves with thick fingers or ones made of wool, and you should be okay.



Scarves are perfect for when your coat doesn’t button up as high as you want it to and you need to protect your face from the chill, or you just want to layer up. Plus, you can wear them as an accessory, since there are tons of cute options!


Another fun winter essential is knee high socks! Get these for the warmth, keep them for the cute ways to put them with your outfit. I like them underneath a pair of knee high boots, with the socks still peeking out. Cute with leggings, jeans, or with a dress and tights!



A ski mask and snow pants are good to have if you know you will be sledding, skiing, or snowboarding. People who love to be outside will definitely need these, or risk catching pneumonia.


Staying safe during the winter comes with a lot of precautions. Driving slowly, remembering to exercise enough, and getting enough time in the sunshine are all important. But staying warm is essential to keep you healthy during your first real winter in Rochester.


Good luck out there!