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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

Snow by Chris Peterson SM '13

On working in a winter wonderland.

Though born in Massachusetts, I grew up in the wintry hinterlands of Vermont and New Hampshire. In Vermont, for instance, I lived in the Burlington area, which averages a bit over five feet of snow every year. While that number isn’t actually that high by comparison to the coastal cities, the difference between Burlington and Boston is that in Boston the snow will melt, whereas in Burlington it never does, so towards the end of the year you actually have several feet of snow that serves as a sort of composite history of the year’s blizzards. In New Hampshire, up in the White Mountains, we spent every New Years outside by a 64 square foot bonfire, usually on couches carved out in the snowdrifts, with the champagne freezing in the bottle on several occasions.

Cambridge is more or less the furthest south I’ve ever lived (except for one year I spent as an undergrad at the College of William and Mary before swiftly transferring) so when other people are freezing I’m basking in the comparative mildness of the winter. You have to know how to dress for the cold. A few simple rules – cover your head (tons of heat escapes off your scalp); clog your collar (ditto for your core); and cotton kills (NEVER wear cotton in the cold – opt for wool or fleece instead) and you’ll be fine. One day, during my junior year of high school, class was cancelled on account of a -60F (that’s -51C) wind chill. A few friends and I bundled up and traipsed around the woods shooting fireworks at Jewel Trolls.

Ah, youth.

Why am I posting about all of this?

Well, winter’s finally come to Cambridge, along with the rest of the East Coast, with the Blizzard of 2009. This snowstorm dumped up to 20″ of snow all up and down the seaboard, including record totals of 30″+ in some areas of New York. Boston was the storm’s last stand before it spun off to the sea. A cold, dry air mass from Canada blanketed northern New England and insulated it from the ravages of the storm. It’s pretty wild actually. I spent last weekend in Boston and Northampton MA and the Nashua area of NH. Despite being very close to one another, the totals were tremendously different:

View Snowfall, MA in a larger map

Most students are home for the holidays, but a few sent me photos of campus the night they left, and I took some on my way into work this morning. They’re just cellphone photos, nothing particularly beautiful or exciting, but if you’re from the lower latitudes or an international student, and thus unfamiliar with a snowy campus, here’s a little bit of the weekend for you:

(You can find more posts about MIT in the snow and winter here)

On Wednesday, I’ll be leaving on my winter break from work, spending a few precious days with family and friends before devoting the next four months of my life to reading regular action applicants. I can’t wait to get back up north and start skiing with my family at my favorite ski mountain where I once worked in high school. And if you find yourself here next winter, and in need of some ways to stay warm or the best places to carve some powder, just drop me a line, an ol’ Papa Petey will fix you right up.

26 responses to “Snow”

  1. Liz '14 says:

    Good thing I like snow. smile

    PS. I just got my Tube. It’s amazing. Thank you. :]

  2. nautna '14 says:

    Thanks; I’m from Georgia, so any tips are greatly appreciated.

    P.S. I envy you sooooo much Liz!

  3. Jenny '13 says:

    Thanks for posting, Chris!

    Is this gonna be what’s waiting for me when I go back Jan. 3rd? (Rhetorical question).

    Holy cow, such a change!!!

  4. Alan ('14?) says:

    Wow beautiful haha ! Why didn’t I wait 2 more months to visit MIT during the winter xD

  5. Natalia '14 says:

    Man, I’ve never seen snow in person. smile Next year’s going to bring some radical changes… (The first photo is just a-ma-zing, by the way.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    @ Liz

    Where do you live, cause I’m still waiting on mine?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ah…snow…=( It snowed a lot here in NYC too, and I had to shovel afterward. Now, all the snow are accumulated together at the edge of the roads and everything is black slush. It took forever to get to school this morning because I had to walk through a mazes of snow and slush=( Horrible.

  8. @Southpaw –

    Don’t apologize – I’m part of the new Ben (along with Dave McOwen). I actually agree wholeheartedly. There are a number of changes to the comments that I’d like to implement – karma (like slashdot), quoting, optional registrations, ratings, etc. After regular action Dave and I are going to take a serious look at revamping the comment / blog structure and that’s one of the key things we’ll be considering. But thanks for the thought too, and always feel free to email me with suggestions!

  9. Val'14? says:

    Ahhh…pretty. =)
    I’ve never seen snow by the way.
    Thanks for the post!=)
    Looks like your penguin earmuffs are just right for the season.

  10. Liz '14 says:

    @Anonymous – Michigan. smile

    Tips for snow… it’s pretty snowy here, but probably not as much as it is in Cambridge. Have a warm winter coat. And scarves. And mittens, because your fingers stay warmer when they’re not separated into gloved fingers. :]

    btw, my captcha says “scale Vectored”!

  11. makesense says:

    I live in California :/
    Today when I was running in the hills I was thinking about how all the hills would be awesome for sledding. sigh. the best I can do is go down them on my desk chair smile that is, once I’ve got a proper brakes system down. may involve several pillows.

  12. MIT '11 says:

    Woohoo! can’t wait to get back to some real snow over IAP this year!

  13. VAL '14 says:

    Gorgeous! Here near Detroit, MI, we’ve really only had one small snowfall. It’s still on the ground though. We usually get our larger snow falls in later January. I can’t wait! :D

    Also, I got my tube yesterday! It’s gorrrrrrgeous!

  14. Piper '12 says:

    Thanks for posting these, Chris! I was sad to not be able to see the snow (though happy to be able to get home on time :D). Hopefully there’ll be some when I get back.

  15. Zeki '14? says:

    Since “snowbama” post it is keeping snowing there.And since that post it is still sunny and warm here.Such a big world with no changes…

  16. Snow. Right now I can walk around outside wearing a T-shirt and shorts. And people are feet of snow. I wonder whehter I’ll ever be to reconcile that.

    @Chris: For some reason I can’t seem to stop thinking of you as Ben. Sorry about that. I also know that this is a bad time to suggest improvements to the blogs, but with EA decisions out, a lot of post are exceeding 100 comments. I was wondering if we could have some sort of a ranking system like Engadget so that we’d have a way of knowing which comments are the best. I know this sounds obsessive, but the blog traffic shows you have a lot of people reading this, so just my thoughts.

  17. ~D says:

    Wowowow missing the snow and the fight too much now….

    Lovely pics.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Was that second picture of the Charles taken from one of the domes???

  19. Louis '14 says:

    Way better than NYC Snow. It’s still white! Haha can’t wait for my tube!

  20. Liz says:

    @Anonymous: I’m going to guess the second picture of the Charles was taken from McCormick, which has a splendid view off it’s top balcony… roof… something.

  21. Whoa that’s a lot of snow… Nice post!

  22. Snively says:

    @Whoever thought the picture was from a dome

    It’s actually from the top of McCormick, one of the dorms.

  23. Caio '14? says:

    Oh, come on! It’s SO hot around here (averages on 28 celsius). I really, really want snow :(

    (Note: I hate this captcha)

  24. ak says:

    I want to apply as a transfer student from my 2nd year.I gave SAT MATH Level 1 and 2 and I got 770 and 780 in them,respectively.Do I have a good chance of getting it or need I give these 2 tests again in Jan’10.I took the Physics sub test and I got 800 in that.
    Please reply soon!

  25. Mehmet '14? says:

    End of December and still no snow in Ankara! I envy you guys…