We’re less than a week from Turkey Day and most of the state has seen its first snow. Winter is officially here in Wisconsin. Most of us are old hat at this and transitioning to winter mode comes as second nature, but lots of people seem to need a reminder. Whether you’re new to Wisconsin or just plain live in denial about the cold and snow, here are some reminders about what it takes to survive winter in Wisconsin.
1. You're probably not going to get out of school or off of work.
We've had more extreme cold days off than we have snow days in the past decade or so. Either way, even though you really, really want that free day, we're kind of used to all the crap weather and we sort of just grin, bear it and move on with our day.
2. Wind chill is no joke.
When the weatherman tells you not to go outside with exposed skin, he's not kidding. Far more concerning than snow or cold weather is the biting wind chill. You'll only ever underestimate it once.
3. Put your windshield wipers up.
Did you know they could go that way? Letting your windshield wipers freeze to your windshield not only makes them less effective in the future, but it's going to make you late for wherever you were headed because you can't effectively scrape the glass and it takes a long while for the defroster to kick in.
4. The calendar means nothing.
Already this year we went from 80 degrees to snowing within a week in October. It could be 60 in January and snow in April. Don't put those boots away until June, basically.
5. Shovel your sidewalk!
Listen, this one seems obvious, but I think folks who only go to and from their home to their car forget that other people use those sidewalks regularly. Once folks trample over fresh snow, you're not getting that icy mess up without some serious muscle and if you don't ever shovel, you're kind of a jackhole and everyone in your neighborhood hates you.
6. You will, at least once in your life, be lying on your stomach in the snow attempting to dig your stuck car our with a shovel, spade, spoon and anything else at your disposal.
The most likely spot this will happen is at the end of your driveway after the plow comes through. You'll think your sedan can handle that little hill of snow and then you'll find you were very, very wrong.
7. Drive in the tire tracks of the car that went before you.
This can be especially scary on the interstate, because you will have no idea where the lane lines are. Those are merely suggestions in winter - stick to the already made tracks and brace yourself when you have to turn or change lanes.
8. Your trunk will look like you're ready to move in.
By the end of winter you'll have enough extra clothes, hats, gloves, blankets and more in your car that you could survive a few days away from home. Not only do they just seem to accumulate, but you also don't want to be caught without those things if your car breaks down. Extra gas, jumper cables, a shovel and half your wardrobe will become winter trunk staples.
9. Learn your town's parking regulations.
You will get ticketed. And you'll also have your car get buried by the plow, possibly dinged by it and generally it will be an unpleasant experience. Figure out what your city deems a snow emergency and park accordingly.
10. Learn to know when ice is really, really frozen. VIDEO Plenty of spots in Wisconsin turn ice-covered lakes into alternate routes of transportation in the winter, but as a bunch of visitors learned in Lake Geneva in 2016, that's only a smart idea if you can be absolutely positive that the lakes are, you know, actually frozen solid.
11. Everyone forgets how to drive during the first snow.
Doesn't matter if they've been living here 50 years, the first sign of the white stuff gives everyone amnesia and driving becomes even more of a nightmare.
12. No matter how much you might feel like the marshmallow man, you probably need to put on more clothes.
You need good boots. Like really good, expensive, warm, waterproof boots. They're not going to be fashionable, but you won't lose any toes, so it's a fair trade off.
13. Despite all our complaining, winter in Wisconsin is actually kind of awesome.
Go outside! Embrace the snow and cold and find one of the hundreds of awesome things to see and do in Wisconsin during the winter. You won't regret it!