Temperate Winter.

Oh sure, it gets cold in Portland during the winter. But “cold” is a relative term. Cold in comparison to when it’s warm. Most every place gets “cold” in winter, just ask Southern Californians. Of course their cold would be downright balmy to someone in Duluth.

While Portland winters are cool, they’re really not cold, and really not true winter. I consider true winter to be a place with regular snow and low temps dropping below freezing pretty much every night, with high temps also staying below freezing for a good portion of the winter. Portland has none of this. Every once in awhile we’ll see snow, maybe once or twice a season, usually barely an inch. Every once in awhile we’ll have a freeze overnight, but most nights stay above freezing. It’s pretty rare to have a day never get above freezing.

What Portland does have is damp and cloudy winters. That’s a guarantee. Some people would rather have a drier, snowier, and sunnier winter, and I get that. Sometimes I’d like that too, maybe not forever, but just for a bit. Some people would just rather have a drier, warmer, and sunnier winter. While that might be nice for a bit, that usually means a place that doesn’t really have true seasons, something I don’t like, and/or living in SoCal, something else I don’t really care to do.

But sometimes I can really appreciate a Portland winter day. Monday was one of those days. It was cloudy with a sky that threatened a rain that never came. The high temp got up to 57F/14C, warm enough that I felt a bit overdressed in my tweed jacket. On a little walk after work, I looked at people’s houses and gardens, plants growing, grass growing, supernatural green moss on rocks and steps. People were out and about, leisurely walking around without worrying about frostbite or something. After a meeting at Velo Cult I got a slice of pizza and decided to sit in the outdoor seating (which was still open) and eat my slice, simply for the fact that I could.

For comparison, on Monday Minneapolis’s high temp hit a whopping 0F/-18C after climbing from -11F in the morning. And that’s not factoring in wind chill. The coldest temp I’ve seen in Portland in the 15 years here was 12F/-11C, which was the lowest low since 1972. Which is still warmer that Minneapolis’s high today.

Some days I would like to be in a place with “real” winter, where winter definitely wants to kill you, where you feel like you’re battling the elements when you’re biking around, where you don’t always feel like such a weather wuss. Monday was definitely not that day.

Still, it would be nice to see a li’l snow before winter is over!


2 thoughts on “Temperate Winter.

  1. Your ponderings on this topic are similar to my own. The only thing I’ll add is that I have enough things in life to be concerned about, and I don’t need frostbite to be added to them 🙂

  2. Funny thing, that weather in PDX. When I lived there I loved the warmish winters because I could bike commute year round. That was a pleasant and welcome surprise. We got our sun on weekends, driving to ski or visit the high desert. But once I moved back to VT I couldn’t believe how sunny it was throughout the winter. I loved the change. And now that I’ve readjusted to cold temps. I’m learning how to, literally, “roll” with it. I’ve learned that I can be happy in most any climate.

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