Unless you live in a cave, you've probably seen this image on the Weather Channel: out-of-town correspondent reports on a Buffalo blizzard from just outside the city (she can't get in because of the driving ban). She's barely visible through sheets of snow. Maybe her hat blows off and disappears into the maelstrom. Buffalo's lake effect "snow events" are legendary-12 feet of snow fell in one week in 2001, and a drive-time storm in 2000 left thousands stranded in their cars. But blizzards are fun for most students who sit in their cozy dorms or houses and celebrate with beer and hot chocolate, emerging the next morning to explore the new landscape.
The thing students loathe about Buffalo winters is that they last forever. Buffalo school kids get used to wearing parkas over their ghost costumes on Halloween, and the cold, wind, and snow don't stop until they search for Easter baskets in April. Many students get to know winter's fun side. Nearly 3,000 of them join Schussmeisters, a ski club with nightly buses to gorgeous ski resorts an hour south of the city. But a majority of students hate the winter, especially the bleakest days, when the day never quite wrestles free from the night. Spring is short and rainy in Buffalo. Summers are magnificent; there is more sun and less rain than any city in the Northeast. Longtime Buffalo residents wax poetic about harsh winters and how the four seasons benefit the soul. But Buffalo's winter is like a high school summer job. It seems like fun looking back, but when you're in the middle of it, you just want it to be over so you can go to the beach.