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10 Reasons No One Is as Hardcore as Upstate New Yorkers When It Comes to Winter

by Meghan Gomez Dec 3, 2014
1. Our snowstorm ’emergency’ kit is made up of beer and snacks.

We should be heading to Wegmans and stocking up on milk and bread, but what we are really going to need is beer, pretzels, and toilet paper. Who wants to drink a glass of milk after shoveling your driveway for five hours? I only grocery-shopped in a state of panic once, and it was before my very first adult WNY snowstorm. I even bought jugs of water, just in case.

After surviving the first storm, you realize that it is only snow and it will probably melt next week anyway, just as another band of lake effect begins to cross Lake Erie. It’s a never-ending vicious cycle. You can give into the panic, or you can ride it out sipping an ice cold Blue Light. You can create extra fridge space by using your back porch that is covered in snow.

2. Don Paul keeps us super-prepared for the next ‘snow party.’

Local weatherman Don Paul predicts, and we act accordingly. In western New York, lake-effect snow is a sneaky little trickster. It can dump six feet of snow on West Seneca, but only 6″ on Amherst, which is a little over 10 miles away. However, you never know who will get hit the hardest so you prepare for the worst (being stuck in your car on Highway 90 for 90 hours) but hope for the best (a snow day with not a whole lot of snow to shovel).

3. We are the ultimate judge of how other people deal with snow.

I grew up and now live in East Aurora, a small town southeast of Buffalo. I moved to New York City after college and remember my first “snowstorm.” It snowed maybe six inches, and the entire city was IN A STATE OF PANIC. The bodega shelves were empty. The subways were shut down. I was sitting at home laughing my ass off because six inches of snow is child’s play to a girl from western New York.

4. Driving bans do not stop us from living our lives.

You can’t get out of your driveway because your car is buried under five feet of snow? Has Orchard Park/Depew/Lancaster instituted a driving ban? No problem, just break out the cross-country skis, snowshoes, or snowmobile. Since we live in the Arctic tundra six months a year, most of us will have some sort of winter recreational gear. It’s how we stay sane in those long, cold winter months. Personally, I prefer cross-country skiing at Elma Meadows to the middle of Oakwood Ave in East Aurora. Those skis come in handy when you are craving an Elm Street Bakery cinnamon bun and the sidewalks are not plowed yet.

5. We remember what it’s like to live without the latest in snowstorm-emergency technology.

When I was young, I had to wake up and watch the endless scroll at the bottom of the TV screen, waiting to see the name of the Nichols School was closed for a snow day. If I missed it, I had to wait for the whole thing to repeat again. In the meantime, I would psych myself up (“Nichols has to close! Look at how much snow Buffalo got overnight!”) and get that adrenaline pumping (“If we don’t have school, I get to watch the Price is Right today!”), which means there is no chance of you going back to sleep.

Now that I am a teacher I just “wake up” to a text message. I use the term “wake up” loosely, because all I am really doing is opening one eye, confirming the text is indeed from the East Aurora School District (and not my mom asking if I have a snow day) and then I go right back to sleep. Keep in mind that the University of Buffalo will never close so you are wasting time refreshing WGRZ’s Closing Central and you may as well get ready for class.

6. Seasonal Affective Disorder means nothing to us.

We are pros at mentally preparing ourselves for snow on the ground in October and that it may last until May. In 2006, we got hit with a crazy storm in the middle of October, which has been dubbed such titles as, “October Surprise” and “Thundersnow.” As a kid, you always had to have a warmer, backup Halloween costume that incorporated a snowsuit and boots, in case it snowed. It has snowed on my husband’s birthday, April 21, and it has snowed on Mother’s Day at least three times in my lifetime. It’s a good year if we can go four consecutive months without any snowflakes to be seen.

7. We’ve got shoveling down to a science.

Northern parts of New York State are constantly getting dumped on, but you’d never know it based on the way we power-shovel. We don’t really shovel to get anywhere, rather just to stay ahead of the storm. That way, when we want to get chocolate chip waffles at The Original House of Pancakes, we don’t have to shovel through six feet of snow. My husband skipped all of his workouts this last week because he was too tired from shoveling every day for 3+ hours, but I am so thankful that when we finally were able to leave our house, we only had about a foot of snow to clear away.

8. Everyone’s car trunk looks like a prepper’s basement.

As a teenager, I used to get so annoyed when I wanted to leave the house and my mom would list off all the things I needed to have with me in the car. “Honey, do you have: a hat, gloves, snow pants, boots, blanket, shovel, granola bars, water, and a fully charged cellphone?” One time my mom insisted that my friend borrow a pair of boots to wear home because she was wearing flip-flops in January. No one ever runs out of closet space because anything we’d otherwise toss just gets added to the trunk pile for us to use in case we’re unlucky enough to get snowed in to our cars.

9. We’ve had so many huge snowstorms, we’re running out of things to call them.

Social media only makes it worse. Everyone around northern New York has heard of the Blizzard of ’77, but I doubt that would have made a trending hashtag. The October Surprise was good, but what happens when the next October storm rolls around (and it will)? There are only so many times you can declare a “Snowpocalypse” before it gets a little “boy-who-cried-wolf.” And let’s be honest, every November around here is a “Snowvember.” Still, anything’s better than the lame “Winter Storm Knife.”

10. In the face of winter’s wrath, Buffalonians live up to their “City of Good Neighbors” motto.

Last week there were more stories about neighbors helping neighbors than anything else. In fact, a group of over 200 people dubbed the Shovel Brigade Mob helped dig out more than 400 driveways, sidewalks, and streets in South Buffalo. The Buffalo Bills even offered to give fans free football tickets and $10 an hour to shovel out Ralph Wilson Stadium. Now that’s true #Buffalove, and we’re proud of it.

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