Ryan Chan's picture

Myth of the Winter in Minnesota

Winter in Minnesota is notoriously cold in the United States. But should you and I fear it? 

I will be honest, winter in Minnesota is definitely colder than most states in the US. Temperatures commonly drop below 0 degrees Celsius (below 32 deg Fahrenheit) starting late November till early April; moreover, there are a few common difficulties such as the snow piling up to 2-3 feet above the ground, mobility is harder when on traveling on foot, and dressing and undressing is tedious. 

True however, the cold REALLY isn't all that bad.


It's about experiencing relative temperature. This means regardless of how well below 0 deg Celsius the temperature is on any given day, people can only feel a minor changes in temperature. Let me explain.

In any place, if the temperature suddenly increases by 2-3 deg Celsius, our surroundings make us feel warmer. And this certainly applies to winter in Minnesota too! For example, if the temperature is -5 deg Celsius in Minnesota and it increases to 0 deg Celsius (recall: -5 < 0 ), we'd feel warmer. That feeling of warmth is almost, if not exactly, the same as experiencing an increase in temperature from 20 deg Celsius to 25 deg Celsius.


So what makes people worry about the winter in Minnesota?

Ever had that moment when you were asleep and then suddenly a small lamp turns on? It hurts your eyes, right? But when you're outdoors during the day and then you went into a mall full of lights opened, the mall appears dimmer than outside. 

It's similar to when a person from a tropical island suddenly travels to Minnesota during the winter, he'd get sick!! Likewise, during winter, if a person from Minnesota travels to the tropical island, he'd be roasted!

I for one, came from the Philippines, where the temperature hardly or seldom goes below 38 degrees Celsius! But I came to the University during Fall semester (September) when the average temperature during the week would be normally around 25 to 32 degrees Celsius. So my body was able to adapt to the slow change in temperature GRADUALLY, not suddenly. Therefore believe it or not, I never got sick because of the cold!!

In fact, when the temperature increased from 0 to 6 degrees Celsius, I was only wearing 1 layer of clothing! That's because our bodies can feel the difference in temperature. 


Then why should we wear winter clothes and gear?

3 reasons:

1. The cold wind (A.K.A. wind-chill) is the one that makes winter cold, not the environment.

2. The snow can melt and turn into ice, so winter shoes are important to prevent slipping

3. Temperatures may still gradually drop till the night, making it cold

Summary: Our bodies are amazing at adapting to their environments. As long as the change is gradual and not sudden, there's nothing to worry about.

Fear not!