Rochester is located in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York State near Lake Ontario. In typical upstate New York style, the weather is unpredictable. Each season has its own distinct character, but they tend to carry over into one another so much you can rarely tell where fall ends and where winter begins. The fall tends to be mild and cool with some heavy rainstorms. When you arrive at RIT in late August or early September, the weather will probably still be quite warm. As September moves on, the weather gets cool and damp. It can begin snowing at any time once it starts cooling down, so be prepared for it to go from cool to frigidly cold in a hurry. Winters here seem to last forever, especially if you are from the South. The snow usually starts in late October and lasts until mid March. The earliest I've seen it start was October 1st, and the latest I've seen it snow was Mother's day (seriously, in May). These are extreme cases that don't happen that often, but I can't help but think that there are other schools in the U.S. that never have to deal with Mother Nature's wrath. While the area isn't prone to the massive snowstorms Buffalo is famous for, it does still see its share of snowfall over the winter months.
The bigger problem during the winter months is the wind and cold. When temperatures reach negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit, students find themselves better off staying in their rooms if they can. To live in Rochester, a diverse wardrobe is required. In fall and spring, it is easy to get away with a more lightweight jacket or sweater, while the winter months often require students to "layer" or stack their clothing. The key is to be prepared for anything. Don't think that you can wait until Thanksgiving break to pack your winter clothes, because you may need them long before that.