Surviving Winter in North Dakota

Winter North Dakota

If you are planning a trip to North Dakota in the winter, great! I guess. It’s not where I would choose to go (most likely because I’ve walked to class in the winter for years now), especially as it is snowing as I type this and has been snowing for a day straight now. We have a lot of snow, it is not even worth it to go out an measure, because by tomorrow, it may all have blown down into South Dakota. Or it might have snowed more. With a winter like this, we probably will get another foot of snow overnight.

But, whatever floats your boat.

While I am proud to call myself a North Dakotan and dare I say Fargonian (Is that even a real thing or did I just make that up?), I always brace myself for some of the stereotypes or questions about the movie Fargo. And no, it’s not a true story. Sorry to break it to you.

Yah sure, some of us have accents and I do say North Dakota like a true North Dakotan. And ocean, and road, and phone, and just about anything that can have a long ‘o’ in it.

They do, in the movie and TV show, portray winter very accurately. Every time it starts to get cold and snowing, I find myself saying Uff-dah.

So for those of you curious about how to survive a North Dakota winter, for whatever your reason may be, here are some tips from a pro who has lived in this northern ice box of a state for nine years.

winter north dakota

Layers are your friend

and they always will be. Who cares if you look like a marshmallow? Well, you might, but at least you’re warm. When you get cold here, you stay cold for quite a while because it is the kind of cold that penetrates deep into your bones and turns your soul black. Wow, that got dark real fast. Just like the daytime in the winter.

Take Plenty of Vitamin D

On December 16. Not even the shortest day of the year yet mind you! The sun rose at 8:07 am and set at 4:39 pm. 4:39!!!  that is only eight and a half hours of daylight people. I can guarantee that you won’t be out in a bikini soaking up the sun on a day like today either.

While I generally oppose medicine (not because I am some new age hippy or anything, I just don’t like it), vitamin D is something that you just have to take if you want to stay your happy normal self. Seasonal Effective disorder is a real thing and it can screw up your life if your are not careful.

winter north dakota

Have a Four-wheel Drive Vehicle

While it is entirely true that four wheel drive does absolutely nothing for ice, which I wanted to so politely inform the lady wanting an SUV at work today as she screamed at her insurance agent over the phone about needing an SUV due to the ice. Four wheel drive, on the other hand, can do wonders in snow.

No worries, you say. I’m going to live/be in the city and they’ll just plow the roads for me.

Well, yes and no. In Jamestown, they don’t plow the roads unless they accumulate over five inches or something like that. Fargo seems to be adopting that thought process as well. Sometimes my car has all it can two in its two-wheel drive glory to get up the tiniest hill in this stuff.

winter north dakota

Have an Emergency Kit in Your Car

This is one of the rules of the road. If you don’t have one, you are subject to fines and a ticket. Well not really, but it is super duper important.

My emergency kit includes two blankets, two pillows, a shovel, flashlight, phone charger for your car, gloves, hat, ice cubes and snacks (crackers or something that is edible when it is frozen). You should also probably have jumper cables too. You never know when you or someone else may need them.

winter north dakota

Have a positive outlook

As cold and nasty and miserable as it may seem in the winter, just think, spring and summer are just around the corner. Think of all the fun you’ll be able to spend outside soaking up the vitamin D in your bikini.

winter north dakota

Sometimes You Should Just Skip Class

This hasn’t happened yet this winter, but in the past there were some days I just had to skip class. It was too cold. And by too cold I mean the wind chill was around -30 degrees F sometimes even colder. Even with all your layers and bundles, there is no way you’ll be warm.

Winter in North Dakota can be amazing and beautiful and wonderful at times. But it can also be brutal enough to make you question life, the universe and everything. I can tell you, the answer is most definitely not 42.

Any cold weather/Northerner winter survival tips that you swear by? Put them in the comments below!

winter north dakota
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