Climate Shock: Why is Pennsylvania So Cold?


Last week, I witnessed my first ever first snow. To clarify, I have seen snow before but I have never seen that first snowfall of the year. After about seven texts, three snapchats and a FaceTime, I rushed outside to watch a flurry of snow fall from the sky (or slush as everyone kindly referred to it as). In retrospect, it definitely wasn’t the first snow I imagined; but I have been assured that one day I will apparently wake up to white powder everywhere.

Looking back on that Tuesday afternoon that it first snowed, I remember how poorly dressed I was for the weather. I had on a skirt, tights, a thin long sleeve top and a cheap pair of boots that were weighed down with melted snow.

In the excitement of heading to the other side of the country for college, I forgot one key part of survival in rural Pennsylvania: winter clothing. Besides my mom’s North Face jacket and my trusty Patagonia sweater, I really do not have anything to keep me warm. Gloves? Haven’t used those since I went skiing when I was thirteen. A scarf? I’ve owned about three in my entire life. Snow boots? Didn’t really know those existed. An umbrella? I really don’t have an excuse for forgetting an umbrella, but I still do not have one.

I figured I would get to campus and all of the important winter stuff would follow. As it turns out, Doc Martens and Timberlands are not sufficient snow boots and a Patagonia really doesn’t protect you from all of the elements.

Of course, Northern California got noticeably cold in the winter, but that usually meant it would be around 34 degrees until 8 a.m. and reach 55 degrees at the coldest by midafternoon. Anything lower than freezing is a concept completely lost on me. This gets particularly frustrating when I attempt to sprint from my friend’s room in Adams over to Drayer at midnight because despite the short distance my legs still seem to get numb every single time.

I also have yet to accept that I will most likely need a heavy jacket or coat whenever I go out from now on. So far, I have transitioned from flimsy long sleeve shirts to light sweaters, but I am still a few weeks away from coming to every class equipped with a scarf, beanie and coat.

The worst part of all of this? I am really not a hat person.