≡ Menu

Survival guide to NYC: #1 Winter

Survival guide to NYC: #1 Winter post image

In the first of what will be a series of hints and tips on living in, or visiting, New York city I cover winter or, perhaps more accurately, extreme climate conditions in the big apple. These are not designed to be in depth guides or, indeed, entirely accurate – they are one woman’s insight in to life here. Hopefully, however, as this series of blogs progresses, it will build into a useful resource for anyone planning a visit to NYC. Enjoy!

Based entirely on personal experience – and, therefore, not in the least bit scientific; winter in New York appears to fall in to two categories – glorious blue skies or chucking it down with snow. No other weather exists.

When it is sunny here it is wonderful. The city comes to life with all the reflections from other buildings. The air is crisp and fresh. Winter is winter and vibrant! – not the many shades of grey and drizzle we are used to in the UK. It is really refreshing to get such clear blue skies and not constantly be battling with brollies.


When it is not sunny it is snowing, and it really REALLY snows. 6-12 inches in a day is a real possibility, an inch is a light covering not really worth mentioning. Snow makes the whole city feel so different. The trees are sugar frosted and central park becomes a winter wonderland. Sledging and snowmen become order of the day. Generally, everything will still run during the snow – the trains still arrive, the subway carries on as normal, taxis still get lost and honk their horns a lot…

Both these weather types come with one extra feature- the cold. It is so cold your face will feel like it is about to fall off and you will lose all sensation in any extremity (and some core areas). That trendy little coat you packed will seem like a summer dress, and you realise why most New Yorkers seem to spend a lot of time in coffee shops. In the five weeks we have been here it has rarely exceeded zero degrees (celsius). Minus 5 or more is a regular norm, and then factor in the wind chill. It really takes your breath away (or just converts it to steam).

Advice to those foolish or hardy individuals choosing to come to New York in the winter. Bring lots of thermals. Bring scarves. Bring hats. If you have them, bring snow boots (wellies will do so long as they are combined with about 3 pairs of socks). Consider body warmers to put under coats. DO NOT forget to bring gloves.

Please note that the kind people here diligently clear the roads and pavements, piling all the snow up on the curbs. This, of course, can make it somewhat tricky to cross roads where you may either be faced with a small mountain of snow or, worse still, a surprisingly deep pool of icy water to trap unwary pedestrians (hence the snow boots/ wellies). These pools can be quite wide so jumping them is an option for the brave or reckless only…especially when the assault course includes compressed snow or black ice.


The problem with these extreme conditions and subsequent wardrobe is that, with all these layers, the minute you set foot in a department store, you will roast. Layers are definitely a better solution for temperature regulation but can mean you will find yourself lugging mounds of clothing which is probably not the cool New York look you had in mind…

Needless to say, I am assured that New York doesn’t normally have this much snow and, I am sure, it can be a lot warmer. Different years will throw up different weather patterns but better safe than sorry, I say. If you are going to brave the city in the winter make sure you are packing for ALL eventualities. Maybe it will be a heat wave, more likely it will be akin to Siberia…

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment