Making Trails

the travel blog of Lauren Nishizaki

Obligatory Weather Post

Vermont, USA

Winter in Burlington is cold! Although I don’t know why that would be a surprise to anyone. I was very glad to have my long down coat - the only things I then had to worry about were my hands (problem solved by wearing gloves and being shoved into pockets), my feet (my “waterproof” shoes had toes that were not quite as waterproof as advertised, so I switched them out with L.L. Bean shearling lined boots), and my head (hat, hood, and jacket zipped all the way up to protect ears and minimize the amount of ice forming in my nose).

The following screenshots show a pretty typical weekly weather pattern. The wind chill would typically drop the perceived temperature by 10 degrees. Snow was scattered and unless there was a large storm, didn’t fall heavily on successive days. Typically, the weather would fall between 0 and 20°F. If it ever rose to around 32°F (0°C), I would rejoice: “It’s warm!!” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen very often.

The sunny days are usually the coldest because there’s no cloud cover to keep the warmth in. It’s often deceiving to stand by a window on a really sunny day. The sun reflects brightly off of the snow and produces a greenhouse effect inside by the windows. When standing by the window and looking out at the blue sky, the heat from the sun makes the temperature appear to be about 60 or 70°F. In reality, it might be -7°F with the wind chill dropping the perceived temperature down to -15°F.

On one of the coldest evenings later in my stay, the weather report stated that the temperature was -11°F with a -24°F windchill. I decided to brave the cold and check out a restaurant near Church Street. I parked in the usual parking lot and walked a measly three blocks to the restaurant. By the time I arrived, I could barely feel my toes and what I could feel was a tad painful and cold. Thankfully, my gloved hands (stuffed into pockets) stayed warm, although my face stung from the biting wind. And of course, at the end of my walk I passed another parking structure right next door to the restaurant.

Burlington never got as much snow as Boston. A series of storms dumped several feet in rapid succession on Boston, whereas the same storms contributed to a couple of inches of snowfall in the Burlington area. Many of the storms coming in from the coast get diverted by two separate (small) mountain ranges. Montpelier sits towards the top of one of these ranges; the weather on the south side might be completely different from the north side.

The city does a pretty good job of keeping the streets clear. Big trucks with large angled shovels in front chug along. The metal shovel pushes the snow off to the side of the road and a dispenser at the back of the truck lays down salt to keep ice from forming. I’ve been told to be wary of driving at certain times of the day, because the snow plows typically only come through the neighborhood before the school bus comes in the morning and just before it leaves in the afternoon. I’ve also heard anecdotes of the hulking trucks throwing sparks, gravel, and mailboxes as the heavy metal shovels scrape along the ground, and I was glad to never have to pass one while driving on the interstate.