Wintertime in the Great Lakes State is no joke. From subzero temperatures to seemingly endless lake effect snow, there are plenty of cold-weather struggles to navigate here in Michigan. Whether you’re a newcomer or simply in need of some helpful advice, here are 10 tips for surviving a Michigan winter.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Invest in layers. Lots and lots of layers.
If you think your thin winter coat is enough to keep you toasty as you venture out into the cold this season, think again. It gets seriously chilly in the Great Lakes State, and there’s no better way to prevent feeling miserable than stocking up on plenty of layers. You might not think that third turtleneck is necessary, but trust us: you’ll be glad you put it on.
2. If you think you’re done shoveling, you’re not.
Ah, the joys of shoveling snow. If you choose to live in Michigan, get ready to spend what feels like an eternity battling the cold to remove snow from your driveway and sidewalks. Even if you think you’ve done a thorough job, be prepared for the heartbreaking realization that snow has continually fallen during your shoveling adventure, so the areas you started with have quickly piled up once again. Life is pain.
3. Lake effect snow is real, and it’s brutal.
Non-Michiganders might not understand just how intense lake effect snow can be, but we promise that it’s very real. Those of us who live close to the shorelines of our Great Lakes are well-accustomed to the wet, heavy, seemingly endless snow that develops over the water, and you’ll notice a distinct difference as soon as you hit the coast. Don’t scoff at lake effect snow -- it’s certainly no joke!
4. Never expect a snow day.
This might be the most painful tip we have to offer, but it’s true. Here in Michigan, snow days are exceedingly rare due to our comfort with navigating through winter storms. In some parts of the country, a few inches of snow is enough shut down the entire region. Where we come from, though, days off from work or school due to inclement weather are true rarities.
5. Get ready to drive in blizzard-like conditions.
Invest in a set of snow tires and hit the road with your fellow Michiganders. It’s scary at first, but those of us with enough practice can attest to the fact that wintertime driving is manageable with extreme caution and attention to detail. We certainly don’t encourage you to venture out in truly dangerous conditions, but a snowstorm or two never kept us from getting from place to place.
6. Visiting a frozen beach might make you fall in love with winter.
The first time you set foot on the frozen shoreline of Lake Michigan, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a true winter wonderland. If you’re feeling disgusted by the endless line of freezing weather that seems to bombard our state every year, make your way to the beach and marvel at its icy beauty. There’s nothing more fascinating than gazing at crystallized waves and towering lighthouses covered in snow.
7. Prepare to hear your fellow Michiganders complain about the weather.
No matter how long we’ve lived in Michigan, we still enjoy a bit of complaining from time to time. After all, it’s never fun to step outside when temperatures drop into the single digits, so you might just hear your fellow Michiganders exclaim, "Ugh! Why do I still live in Michigan?!" It doesn’t mean we dislike our state, but a bit of California dreaming always comes into play each wintertime.
8. "Winter" doesn’t necessarily always mean "winter."
This tip might be surprising, but it’s true: Michigan’s weather is so unpredictable that it’s been known to deliver 70-degree days in the middle of February. Of course, the reverse is also true, as we’ve even experienced snowfall in April and May. But winter in Michigan doesn’t always follow strict guidelines, and it’s not unheard of to head outdoors in shorts and a t-shirt during typical winter months.
9. Make your run to Meijer long before the storm hits.
When a snowstorm is on the horizon and you’re concerned about being snowed in without access to groceries, be sure to plan ahead. Meijer (along with Kroger, Family Fare, or any other major supermarket) turns into a madhouse when a major storm threatens to snow in Michigan residents, so it’s important to stock up on your staple goods with as much time to spare as possible.
10. Don’t forget to enjoy Michigan’s wintertime splendor.
Sure, winter in Michigan can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and even frightening. But that doesn’t mean it’s all bad! The snowy months in our state give way to countless gorgeous and fun activities, from skiing to winter hikes to sightseeing at unique frozen locales throughout the region. The best way to survive a Michigan winter is to embrace its fascinating beauty, and there’s plenty of joy to be found.
Tell us, Michiganders: do you have any other tips for surviving a Michigan winter? What are some of your favorite and least favorite parts of the snowy season? Let us know in the comment section below!