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Surviving the Winter in “The City of Snow”

Surviving the Winter in “The City of Snow”

In China, people call Syracuse “Xuecheng”, which means the city of snow. For anyone who has spent a full year in Central New York, you are already snickering about how true this is, but for international students (or for anyone new to the CNY area) the first snowy winter can be a life-changing event.

If you’ve reached this article because you’re moving to Syracuse to work or study, we put together a list of key items. This will not be news to the natives, but to visitors from the tropics, this is a brand new way of thinking.


A warm coat

This might be a given, but what may not be as obvious, is that certain materials keep you warmer than others. Find a coat that has an inner layer of either polyester, wool, or polypropylene. These materials keep your body at a consistent temperature, as well as lock in heat. The outer layer can consistent of any kind of material, faux furs, fibers, or plastic-based Gore-Tex. That said, you don’t need a $900 Canada Goose Parka. Think EMS or LL Bean.

Waterproof boots with anti-skid sole

Those who have never experienced walking on snowy pavement, might consider a pair of UGG boots for the winter. Not only are UGGs and similar suede boots, most suitable for late-fall, the sole is too slippery. Proper boots for a snowy winter must be waterproof with an anti-skid rubber sole. Rain shoes and warm thick socks is also an ideal choice.

proper snow boots in a snowy winter in CNY

Proper snow boots in a snowy winter

Hats, scarves, and gloves, and a mask

Warm accessories are necessary in snowy winters, especially hats, hoods, and head scarves. Not only will they keep your head warm, but protective headgear will also protect sensitive blood vessels on your cheeks and nose, and prevent headaches. Scarves to be used around the neck are also essential in keeping warm. a scarf that is long enough to cover your chest, can also protect you from developing a cold, or even worse a fever.

If you need to handle something or simply want to play in the snow, don’t forget to wear gloves. For extremely cold days, a ski- mask is also another option for those of you who aren’t afraid of scaring neighbors. Ski-masks come in many different styles, some that cover the whole face, or just partially.

Vivian, a student in Syracuse University, wearing her wonderful winter hats for the snowy winter

Vivian, a student in Syracuse, wearing her wonderful winter hats


Store enough food before the heavy snow

Follow the weather forecast to see if it will snow for several days on-end.  If so, making a trip to your local grocery store may not be such a smart idea. If your car is not properly equipped, you can risk damaging it or even worse, getting into an accident. Doing some extensive grocery shopping in advance can help you avoid racking-up a hefty auto-repair bill, save lives, and make you less bothered by the fact that delivery services will likely be at a standstill until the snow clears!

Eat filling foods proven to keep you healthy and warm

Some high-calorie foods will give you more energy, boost your metabolism, and help you to generate heat. But don’t eat too much junk-food, because there are also some healthy options that have the same effect, like beans, black tea, red meat, and so on. Additionally, eat more fruits and vegetables and drink at least eight glasses of water while indoors. Spending a long amount of time in heated rooms will make your body lose water quickly, so it is important to replenish!

red bean dessert for a snowy winter in CNY

Red bean dessert

A Humidifier

Using a humidifier able to operate continuously for hours in heated rooms can help to prevent dry air from irritating your throat, and causing discomfort that could lead to sickness.

A shovel and snow-melt agents

If you live in a privately owned house, by law you need to clear your walkways and the sidewalk in front of your home. If you are renting, your landlord is usually responsible for this, but by the off-chance your landlord is unavailable, you should probably stock up on a handy shovel and snowmelt agents just in case.


Choose a car and parking lot suitable for cold and snowy weather

If you are looking to buy a car sometime before heavy snow season, a car with four-wheel drive might be a good purchase, especially if you expect to spend a good amount of time in upstate NY. Four-wheel drive equipped cars, perform better in the snowy winter, and have better traction on the road.

If you already have a car that does not have all-terrain driving capabilities, invest in two-sets of snow tires. Remember, you still need to drive slowly and carefully since snow tires cannot completely prevent your car from slipping and sliding.

Lastly, look into renting an indoor parking lot. This would save you the hassle of having to dig your car out of the snow, and can prevent you from getting unnecessary parking violations! Moreover, when the snow plowing trucks come through your neighborhood, you want to be safe from dents and scratches.

cars in a snowy winter in CNY

Check the battery and tire pressure

Make sure to have your car properly screened by professionals before driving in severe weather. You can also maintain your car yourself, by preheating your car before you head out onto the road. You may notice that sometimes your car may take several turns of the key to start it. Once the engine finally kicks into gear, keep your car in “park,” and turn on the heat. Allow your car to warm up, before your drive to prevent it from locking up, or breaking down.

Cold weather can also decrease the air pressure in your tires, so make sure to schedule a visit to your local car shop to make sure the tire pressure is correct. In some instances, it can be good to run your tires a few pounds light. This can actually help the tires grip better, but again, get the advice of a tire professional!

Check windshield wipers and add wiper fluid

In the winter, your ability to see clearly on the roads may be influenced by the buildup of precipitation on your windshield. To ensure your safety, check the windshield wipers and choose wiper fluid that has anti-glare and anti-fog agents. Wiper fluid that also has a lower freezing temperature will also prove helpful.

Change the oil and adjust the viscosity

Cold weather will make the oil thicker, which reduces the effect of lubrication, especially to your engine. Generally, the owner’s manual for your car will tell you proper viscosity levels for different climates.

Add anti-freeze mixture

The mixture of anti-freeze and water can prevent the coolant in your radiator from freezing, especially when you park your car outside.


If you follow these tips, you are sure to have a comfortable, safe, and pain-free snowy winter in CNY. There’s another less implored solution–move to a sunny place for a few months! Or simply begin looking into winter-holiday excursions, to take full advantage of the snowy winter weather!

To get some tips about the best places for skiing near Syracuse, please click the following links:

Top 3 places to ski in Syracuse

Top 3 places to ski in Central New York




About The Author


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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