Our experience of the seasons is completely dictated by the weather patterns of where we live.
Someone in Southern California is going to have a drastically different concept of winter than someone in Northern Canada. Just as someone in Jamaica will have a different concept of summer weather than someone in the Netherlands.
All this is to say, if you want stories of peak winter weather, and all the danger and beauty that comes with it, you've got to ask the people who live it.
There was supposed to be really bad snow starting around 8pm. I was visiting a friend’s place about 40 minutes from home, and I left to drive home at about 7. It was snowing but not that hard.
Within 10 minutes, I was trapped in freeway traffic in legit blizzard conditions. Your headlights hit the falling snow so they don’t light up the road as much.
The wind is blowing the snow around so much that you can’t see where your lane is, where the edge of the road is, anything. You’re just desperately staring at a tiny patch of illuminated white in front of you.
I accepted that I would probably end up in the ditch or else someone near me would try to brake and set off a chain of events leading to all of us colliding. I decided to take the next exit and rent a motel room.
But I couldn’t get up the hill that the motel was on. I had to turn my wheels and let my car spin out as it slid back down the hill, and then I did my best to get control before the bottom. I got back on the freeway and miraculously got home.
My roommate started laughing and said “How the f**k did you just drive home?”
Trying to walk to school alone at age six and hugging a telephone pole crying for my life because the wind was knocking me off my feet. A kind person living nearby picked me up and drove me back home, and had some choice words for my parents.
I live on an island in Maine that's an hour ferry ride out from civilization. The boat comes 3 days a week typically but there are a lot of times they cancel due to the weather.
This one particular day they probably should've canceled and I wouldn't have even gotten on but I needed to make a flight for my friend's bachelor party.
The swells were washing over the boat and a couple of times it rocked so far that I had one foot on the floor and the other on the wall for balance. One of the windows cracked from the force of a wave.
I'm not normally too stressed on those boat rides as I trust the captains to be a good judge and know what they and the boat can handle but that time in particular really made me consider that I might drown in a freezing ocean.
Back in university, a group of friends were stumbling home from the bar mid-winter in -30C weather. One friend lay down in a snow bank and decided she was going to sleep there. Other friends walked away.
Luckily they came back five or ten minutes later to get her and make sure she got home ok. People have died from passing out in snowbanks in the cold like that.
Came out of a bar and wandered to a side alley to catch a ride with friends and see a dude face down in a snow bank. Had to be easily -20 C out. Guy had on jeans and a t-shirt and just passed out.
Went back in and told the bouncers to come get the a**hole before he died. Where he was no one would have seen him the rest of the night, he'd be dead in no time. Drunk and winter aren't a good mix.
City got shut down for a week in a state of emergency for a freak once in a 100-year snowstorm. Stores were closed. Power went out. You weren't allowed to go on the road unless you were an essential worker.
It got real cold and there was limited food in my cupboard. I got real lucky the power came back not long after my phone battery died. We all thought it would be the most newsworthy event of the year.
Three months later the pandemic hit and everyone forgot about snowmaggedon.
Playing dodge-semi on the highway at midnight, the highway being covered in a sheet of ice, me doing 40 in a sedan while the semis do 80.
My best friend was supposed to get married on a day where we had a blizzard. Of course, the reception was canceled, but they were still hoping to get married.
The pastor lived near the church they were supposed to be married in and said if they could make it in he would be happy to perform the ceremony. The interstate was closed most of the day, but finally, in the evening it opened.
They said they were going to try. I really wanted to be there, so I hopped in my car and headed out. I was driving down the interstate, admittedly going a bit faster than I should have when I started to slide.
I overcorrected and it turned into a full 360° spin. I vividly remember facing the headlights of the other cars on the interstate that were heading toward me.
It turns out that if you spin out, your engine turns off, so I couldn't even drive once I pulled out of the spin. I managed to coast to the shoulder where I was able to restart my car and made it to the church in time to see them get married.
I was the only person who wasn't immediate family that made it and was very happy to be there (and alive!)
I fell into a ditch. There was a snow storm that left 60cm + of snow. Coming back home from work I saw foot prints in the snow so I though it was safe to walk that way. Two steps in I sank waist-deep in the snow.
I am 5'9. I panic for a couple of seconds then I rolled myself out of the ditch.
My neighbor thought he was having a heart attack, but it was in a snowstorm and there was no way that an ambulance would get up the driveway through the deep snow. So I went over and started shoveling.
Suddenly a pickup truck with a plow on it came flying out of the blinding snow and nearly ran over me. It was terrifying. Turns out my neighbor called someone who had a truck who came to help.
I've had a lot of close calls in winter, but being hit at high speeds by a big hunk of metal is scary.
I was once leaving my girlfriend's apartment in the dead of winter in northern Arizona. She lived at this complex on a super steep hill.
I had driven back and forth all the time with no issue but it had snowed and warmed enough to melt a little and then refroze when the sun went down so the hill was essentially a car-sized circus slide you go down with the burlap sacks.
Right as I started my descent I felt my car start to drift. I was like 19 and had mono so when I started sliding I way overcorrected and essentially slingshot my car into the curb, completely snapping my front axle.
I limped it to a grocery store and told them I’d tow it in the morning, but when I came to get it figured out the next morning they were in the process of having it towed. It was a f**king nightmare.
The crash and snap I heard from inside the car will never leave my mind.
I was driving up to a ski hill after a snowstorm. Not having a great amount of money at the time, I hadn't invested in winter tires. There was a tractor-trailer in front of me, a car to my left, and another car behind.
Something shifted in the passenger seat, so I took my eyes off the road for a moment. The right wheels crossed into the shoulder and lost traction. The car drifted to the right, onto the shoulder.
I would have gone into the guardrail, but the snow had piled up against it, forming a natural curb that my car bounced off of.
Between steering the car back toward where I wanted it to go and the car bouncing off the snowbank, my car, still without proper traction, started drifting left.
The truck ahead had begun to slow, but I didn't want to brake for fear of losing what traction I had. So my car makes its way sideways across the lane, and I prepare for whatever is going to happen when I sideswipe the vehicle one lane over.
But just as I hit the centre of the lane, my tires manage to grip the road again and I resume moving straight forward, tapping my brakes at this point to prevent myself from rear-ending the truck which was now right in my face.
It feels like an eternity typing it all out like this, but the whole event couldn't have taken more than a few seconds. In the end, the only thing that my car made contact with, other than the road, was that snowbank, and that didn't even leave a mark.
And when I got home from the ski hill, I bought myself snow tires, because, even though snow tires are expensive, no way in hell was I letting that happen to me again.
A few years ago around Thanksgiving, it snowed a foot overnight. I was homeless at the time, riding my bike trailing a heavy bike cart that had a flat tire as the sun was going down and snow was starting to fall.
I was sweating and exhausted because of the flat. I pulled into a parking lot to rest for a bit, unzipped my outer jacket, sat down, and promptly fell asleep. Woke up in the middle of the night with half a foot of snow on top of me.
It took like 10 minutes for me to be able to move any part of my body at all. I managed to eventually stand up, grab a blanket from my cart, and drag myself into a dumpster enclosure to wrap up in my blanket between the dumpster and wall.
I don't know how I didn't freeze to death that night.
I was pretty new at driving, and coming home from work late one night I decided it was the perfect time for my first drive across the lake. (Minnesota) Things were okay for the first few minutes.
As I got closer to the center of the lake I started getting nervous, it was really hard to see anything except the plowed path in front of me.
I realized I had no idea where I was going to come off the lake at, or if the path even went all the way across the lake. So I decided I would turn around and go home.
As soon as I backed up off the plowed area to turn around, I was stuck in over a foot of snow. Tried rocking the car, tried putting my floor mat under the tire (which just ended up flinging the mat 20 feet behind me).
Tried digging out with my snow scraper…the only thing I succeeded in doing was breaking a fingernail off, causing my finger to start bleeding.
This was way before cellphones, so I finally decided that I needed to start walking towards home. I was probably 3 or so miles away. Unfortunately for me, the windchill was about -20.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to walk across a frozen lake on a windy night but a lake is pretty flat and there’s nothing to shield you from the wind. By the time I got off the lake I was seriously thinking I was going to die of hypothermia.
Not long after I reached an area with houses and my extremely introverted, shy, socially awkward self bravely decided that I needed to knock on a door for help. Someone finally answered.
I explained my predicament and asked if I could use their phone. I called home, feeling relieved that help was within reach and enjoying the warmth of this stranger’s house - and my younger brother answered.
I told him to get dad, he said “nope haha” I told him he wasn’t funny and I needed help and…he hung up on me. I called back but he must’ve left the phone off the hook because I only got a busy signal.
After trying a few more times and feeling increasingly awkward I decided the only thing I could do was walk the rest of the way home. So I did, my burning hatred of my brother and plans to beat the crap out of him keeping me warm.
Made it home with only one little spot of frostbite on my finger (hole in my glove), brother got read the riot act by my dad (as did I for driving onto the lake) and the next day dad drove me back to get my car which thankfully hadn’t been towed.
I haven’t had any interest in driving on a lake since.
In Buffalo in 2006, we had what has been dubbed 'The October Storm.' I was working an overnight shift at a group home, by myself. In the middle of the night, I noticed snow coming down HARD. Like, January hard, in October.
It was relentless. Never seen so much snow fall in such a short period of time. Shortly after, I noticed the sky looked like it was on fire.
When I managed to open the door and kind of get out, there were s**t tons of electrical wires down and sparking because of the weight of the snow. The entire sky was bright orange. I thought the roof was on fire. It was terrifying.
As soon as daylight broke, the entire city was buried under snow. Stayed that way for over a week. $530 million worth of damage.