OPINION: What is winter without snow?

Students recount past snowy, rainy or snowless winter experiences



Whether it accumulates only an inch, or up to several feet, snow makes winter feel wintery, this Evergreen columnist argues.


I grew up in central New York, near Syracuse. We almost always had snow in the winter. I tried to remember a winter without snow, and nothing came to mind — either there were none or I simply forgot about it after being gone for so long. In my eyes, a winter without snow is hardly a real winter unless the temperature is cold enough to keep me from wanting to go out at all. 

I had fun as a kid, building snowmen or digging little caves into the snowbank at the end of my driveway. We went snowshoeing for part of gym class in middle school. For me, December 2020 hardly felt like winter at all. 

On the other hand, Makenna Mullen, junior mechanical engineering major, said she is from western Washington and typically had more rain than snow in the winter. 

“We don’t get snow, really, except for one dusting,” Mullen said.

Despite not having a lot of snow, Mullen said it does feel somewhat more like winter if there is snow, as opposed to just sun or rain. For Mullen, the ideal winter is when she would go out in the snow, try to make things, then come back inside and drink hot chocolate. For her, that feels like winter. 

Christi Webster, junior bioengineering major, said she is from Montana and Pullman has significantly less snow and shorter-lasting snow than what she is used to. 

“Here it seems to be like it snows, it melts, it snows, we carry on,” Webster said.

Webster said Pullman doesn’t get cold enough for it to feel like winter. A couple of inches to a foot of snow and a cold enough temperature for an outdoor ice rink is ideal, she said, because afterwards, when you feel cold and wet, you can drink hot chocolate. She also said she likes when it snows at night since the fresh snow in the morning is particularly pretty. 

Neither Webster nor Mullen had many closures due to snow in the past. While Mullen said she only got closures due to very rare, spontaneous downpours of snow, Webster said snow days are more like ice days where the roads are so icy that driving is unsafe. Webster said she could only remember one closure, where she believes it snowed multiple feet in 24 hours. On the other hand, when she lived in Virginia, schools might close for less than an inch of snow. 

I can understand what she means. Having spent most of my life in central New York, we only got snow days every now and then. Some of us had a pastime of trying to spot the ‘Florida drivers’ on the road. One day, I believe the wind-chill had the temperature low enough to where they closed schools because it was too cold, not because it was too snowy. Now my mother lives in Virginia and likes to affectionately mock the community’s response to snow. 

While I personally get sick of snow fairly quickly after it hits, Webster said she can go a long time before she feels the same, as she really enjoys snow. Mullen said now, since she doesn’t go anywhere, she doesn’t care about snow, but back when she had to walk to class she could only last about three days before she was fed up with it.

Snow also offers activities that make winter feel wintery. Webster said she enjoys outdoor ice skating and baking cookies during the winter. Mullen said she and her siblings used to hit trees and see how much snow would fall. 

While winter in Pullman was all in all not very wintery this year, I look forward to the other seasons and possibly enjoying a nice snowy winter in December 2021.