How to Survive Love Winter in Iowa
For some of us, whether we like the cold or not, we are somewhat used to winter in Iowa: the snow, the sleet, the wind… the painfully frigid wind. But as you’ve met people on campus, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that not everyone is from the Midwest. There are many of us who have never seen real snow and probably are not prepared for a real winter. For those warm weather Gracelanders, we’d like to offer a “how to” on the art of loving winter in Iowa.
Winter isn’t just something you have to survive. It offers its own opportunities for recreation and fun!
While obviously having a ton of fun… notice many examples above of how NOT to dress for winter in Iowa.
Things to do:
Build a snowman
Have a snowball fight (Please be gentle.)
Make snow angels
Take pictures (There are some beautiful photography opportunities. Use your photos to make a calendar or send prints back home!)
Go sledding/snow tubing
Go for a hike
Build an igloo/snow fort
Play games (capture the flag, flag football, etc.)
Play ice hockey (Please, please make sure any body of water is Completely frozen before attempting this!)
You’re going to experience days with single digit high temperatures, so the more gear you have, the better!
A coat. Not a jacket. A coat. – This is essential to avoid being completely miserable. The thicker and fuzzier, the better (down is the warmest).
Gloves/Mittens (or both) – Your hands can get cold quicker than almost anything else. And, if you’re not careful, frostbite is not unheard of on those super cold days. Even the simplest pair of gloves can keep your fingers pain-free but consider a more intense version if you intend to go out and play in the snow.
Hat – Keeping your head and ears warm is a very simple way to make walking across campus to eat or go to class something you don’t completely dread.
Scarf – A scarf keeps your neck warm, a part of your body you wouldn’t think could have so much impact on your overall comfort level. You might be surprised…
Warm socks – Nothing is more miserable than cold toes. Talk about ouch. Your toes are also the hardest to warm up after coming in from the cold. Do yourself a favor and do whatever is necessary to keep your piggies warm.
Boots – Boots are another part of your winter wardrobe that will help to keep your feet warm (remember how important this is?). Tromping through blowing snow and drifts is a whole lot less awful if you can keep your feet warm and dry.
ChapStick – The frigid wind doesn’t care if your lips are kissable. Take a tube of ChapStick with you everywhere you go and you will be able to avoid bleeding.
Lotion – Even with all that snow on the ground, the air is so dry that you’ll notice your skin drying out, even at this early point in the season. Your hands can get rough and become painful so stock up on lotion and apply often.
Kleenex – Whether you’ve got a cold or not, freezing temps can make your nose run. It’s a good idea to keep tissues with you in your backpack or pocket to avoid embarrassing dripping.
For Your Car:
Windshield Scraper/Brush – If you have a car, it will feel the pains of winter as well. And if you intend to drive anywhere, you’re going to need to remove the snow from your windows (all your windows) before you pull out of your parking space. Turn on your car (defrost on high) and take the three minutes to brush off the snow or scrape off the ice, so you can safely get to your destination (& allow others to safely get to theirs).
Windshield Washer Fluid – Driving in snow is messy and that mess will, undoubtedly, end up on your windshield. Make sure (now, before it gets too miserable) that your washer fluid is full so you can see properly no matter what the car in front of you kicks up.
Emergency Supply Bag – If you intend to drive anywhere outside of Lamoni, it’s a good idea to have some supplies on hand, just in case you don’t make it to your destination. Slippery roads and frigid temperatures can cause you to lose your grip on the road or your car to stall and being stuck in a ditch with extra blankets and supplies is a much more bearable experience.
Where to buy:
The Graceland Book Store offers a place on campus to buy Graceland cold weather layering pieces and apparel, hats, gloves and scarves and even blankets. Stay warm while looking good and showing your Jackets (blue and gold) school spirit! (Click the Graceland University hat at right to go to the website or check it out in person.) The bookstore also carries some cold remedies and health supplies that may come in handy.
Dollar General in Lamoni has winter essentials like hats, gloves, long underwear (no really, you’ll be glad you have it), and even extra supplies like “Little Hotties” (think heated inserts for shoes & gloves, not small good looking people). They also have the items listed above such as ChapStick, lotion, kleenex and car supplies, in addition to over-the-counter medicines if the cold gives you a cold. Also check for fun things, like sleds.
The Service Center is a thrift store in downtown Lamoni where you can find all sorts of winter gear (depending on current inventory).
Wal-Mart is located about a half hour north (Osceola) and south (Bethany, MO) just off I35 and can fill in the gaps for any additional winterizing you might like to do. Better warm than sorry, we always say.
Types of Snow
Powder Snow: This type of snow (seen left) is light and fluffy. It piles up higher and is easier to shovel. It’s perfect for sledding/skiing and you won’t necessarily be soaking wet after an afternoon playing in it.
Wet Snow: This type of snow is heavier and packs easier. It’s harder and heavier to shovel, but great for making snowballs and building snowmen.
Slush: Slush happens when the temperatures are a bit warmer and what has fallen or is falling is in between snow and water. It’s messy and not nearly as pretty or fun to play in.
Frozen Slush: This happens when the temperature warms up enough to melt snow into a semi-frozen state and then drops again, freezing the slush. It can cause ruts and grooves on roads and sidewalks, making it even more dangerous.
Winter can mean ice. Ice is slippery. If you drive, you will need to be extra cautious and go slow. It will take you longer to stop and be challenging to accelerate. Make sure you take the necessary steps and pack the necessary supplies to be safe. And, seriously, don’t be that girl/guy who drives with your head out the window in below zero temps because you didn’t scrape your windshield.
Even walking can be dangerous during certain days when sidewalks and stairways are icy. Graceland’s Facility Services do an excellent job clearing our walkways but there are things you can do and ways to step in order to avoid falling. Wear shoes that offer traction and step carefully. Falling is not only embarrassing, but can also land you in Health Services.
Form vs. Function
There’s warmth… and there’s fashion. You can have both but, if you’re forced to choose just one… go for warmth. Seriously.
<< See how happy being warm can make you? And she even looks good!
Temperatures on campus can vary from building to building and classroom to classroom. Be prepared to remove your layers in some places and put them back on in others. Make sure not to get too hot, however, in places that keep the heat turned up higher. If you sweat and then try to re-enter the outdoor winter wonderland, you’ll learn of a whole new type of cold.
Additional Winter Tips
Use the tools Mother Nature gave you. There is a very good reason you see more beards in the winter and drastic haircuts tend to wait until spring.
Cover your fingers, ears and waist (the longer the coat, the better).
If you keep one thing warm, make sure it's your feet.