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Everything You Need to Know for a Syracuse Winter

Everything You Need to Know for a Syracuse Winter

CNY’s universities draw visitors from all over the world, and for many, the end of October brings a completely new experience– their first real winter. Syracuse is one of the snowiest cities in the country, and for that reason we made it our duty to prepare you for what’s to come. Here is our best advice for surviving a Syracuse winter.

If you’re coming from Asia, Europe, or even the West Coast, just know, this will be a life-changing experience.


A Syracuse winter typically lasts October to April. Although Syracuse has seen snow in the month of May, that is pretty rare. The city averages almost 125 inches of snow each year, but saw nearly 135 inches of snowfall last year. January is usually the snowiest month in Syracuse, and also the most likely time for temperatures to drop below freezing.

town and cars covered in snow

A couple inches of snow covering town and cars. (vagueonthehow / Flickr)

Make sure to check weather updates daily. Due to the lake effect snow, the weather may change abruptly. Just make it a habit to check the forecast before you head outside.

Due to the weather conditions, you want to give yourself extra time in your travels. If you plan on driving in the snow, give your car a couple of minutes to warm up. If you walk, give yourself extra time to reach your destination.


There’s no telling how cold this year’s winter may be, but one thing is for sure: we must prepare for it. Syracuse does a great job on street snow removal if you decide to drive to the nearest grocery store, but having your groceries delivered through Amazon Fresh or Wegmans delivery service is ideal. This way, you won’t need to step out into the cold, or shovel the snow off of your car. Sometimes, there may be a couple hour delays due to weather conditions, so just make sure to plan ahead and stock up on basic essentials like water.

Some other important items to have in your home at all times are batteries, a flashlight, first aid kit, and snow shovel.


A very important part of preparing for the snow is buying the right clothing. Having a coat suitable for a Syracuse winter is essential. Since Syracuse reaches below freezing temperatures, you want to make sure to get a coat warm enough for at least -20 degrees. Stores like Eddie Bauer includes tags on their coats that specify temperature levels built for the coat. A waterproof coat is also important in case of rain. Having rain soak through your coat will surely make you sick, and it will take extremely long to dry out. Additionally, a windproof coat will save your life. Some locals say the snow isn’t so bad, but the cold wind is unbearable. You want to make sure your coat is completely resistant to the wind. Preventing cold winds from reaching your chest can help you avoid getting sick.

snow boots

L.L.Bean waterproof snow boots with rubber soles, suitable for the Syracuse snow. (Robert Nelson / Unsplash)

Snow boots are a must-have, especially for college students walking to and from campus. Once the snow starts melting, the whole city will turn into a big slushy mix of ice, snow and water. For that reason, you want to make sure your boots are waterproof, so your socks and feet don’t get wet. Anti-skid rubber soles are also crucial. To avoid slipping, make sure your boots have rubber soles. You can find these boots at stores like L.L.Bean. As an alternative to non-slip shoes, apply mink oil to your boots. Along with your boots, you may want to get a pair of thermal socks to keep your feet warm.

The city’s streets and sidewalks are often salted to avoid icing, which may ruin good shoes. To get rid of the salt, wipe your shoes with a wet cloth before they dry.

Some important snow accessories to keep in mind are gloves that prevent frostbite, a warm beanie to protect your head from any cold winds, a warm scarf to keep your neck and part of your face covered, or a ski mask to do the same.


Winter in Syracuse isn’t all bad, so grab some friends and embrace the cold.

ice skates

People enjoying the outdoor ice skating rink. (松林L / Flickr)

Head down to an outdoor ice skating rink. Go skiing on the weekend. Have a snowball fight with your frenemies and build a snow fort to protect yourself. Build a snowman and hope he comes to life like Frosty once did. Make heavenly snow angels. Pull out your professional camera and take some amazing photos of the winter wonderland.


If it’s too cold to go outside, bring the fun indoors. Have a movie marathon with a pal, or binge watch your favorite shows. Pull out the board games and compete with your friends in a three-hour long Monopoly game. Bake some sweet treats, and have your home smell like pumpkin spice. And if it gets bad enough, start planning your next trip out of the city.


Your first winter in Syracuse may seem intimidating, but these helpful tips will get you through. And besides, how cool will it be to say that you lived in one of the snowiest cities in the country? Your friends and family back home will be very impressed.

About The Author

Lillion Hunt

M.S. Computational Journalism, 2018


This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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