LIFE IN NEW JERSEY: Well, yes, it’s cold. But not as bad as most people probably think. Mind you, if you are relocating from Australia or some other sunny climate, winter in New Jersey is going to feel a little like the Arctic initially.
Strictly speaking, winter doesn’t officially start until December 21stor 22nd. The temperatures get progressively colder from November onwards, with January being considered the coldest. It starts to get noticeably cold from about mid-November, once the leaves are all once and truly gone. By December, the daily high temperature is in single figures (>10C). Even though snow is most likely in January, it can snow well before that. Winter weather can be anything from clear, sunny, crisp days to snow storms, or something in between such as ice-storms.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Having snow at Christmas is not impossible, although I’ve just missed it twice, so far… It arrived on Boxing Day instead.
Snow can be light, where it looks like someone dusted icing sugar all over the place, or it can be heavy. The worst in recent times would be the snow blizzard New Jersey experienced, in 2010 on Boxing Day, where we had over 2 feet of snow. People in other parts of the US would probably laugh this off. Residents of Chicago and other wintry US cities get more than this amount of snow on average every year. So it’s all relative I suppose.
As expats from Australia, we love it when it snows. Even though we’ve been here almost three years, there is still something magical about the world when snowflakes are falling. And it’s still novel for us to have a snowball fight and make snow angels in the yard. Snow seems to be less frequent in the last two years, possibly due to global warming but on average it occurs 2-3 times in a season.
The other interesting winter occurrence is the ice-storm, which contains ice-pellets. Unlike snowflakes, ice-pellets are hard when they hit the ground. This is quite different from snow, and from freezing rain, which is wet and usually slushy. Ice-pellets are a completely different experience than snow and are harder to shovel.
In cold conditions, the ice pellets stay frozen, and cover everything in icicles. Roads during this sort of weather can be very slippery and dangerous.
Covered in icicles, the trees look like they have their own Christmas decorations – a very pretty site.
When it’s really cold
Probably the coldest it will get is -15 to -20C. Luckily this doesn’t happen often. In this sort of weather, your water pipes can freeze and burst. Most of the time, it’s only 0 to -5C but the wind chill factor can make it seem a lot worse. You really need a good winter coat and gloves, as well as thermal underwear, if you are walking around outside in these conditions.
What do people do here in winter?
Skiing and snow-boarding are a big past-time during winter in New Jersey, with local ski fields very accessible in the northern part of the state via an easy drive. During winter holidays and long weekends, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New York, are all popular skiing destinations. Other activities include pond ice-skating, snow-tubing and ice-fishing.
Winter in New Jersey is very different from Sydney but it’s one difference that we all enjoy as Aussie expats.