Winter Seasonal Information

Introduction to Winter in Michigan

Winter in Michigan officially starts on December 21st and lasts until March 19th; however, this season tend to last much longer. Michiganders can expect temperatures to begin to sink starting early October, and generally temperatures reach under 32F° (0C°) as early as late October or beginning of November. The winter season can be very difficult to predict, especially for international students that does not originate from an area with similar climate.

This is a section of Compass is meant to make the transition to accustom yourself to the cold, snowy and dark winter months that Michigan offers every year, a little easier. These factors may not seem very attractive, however, there is so many unique and fun things to experience during the winter period in Michigan, from ice-skating and skiing to the extravagant holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s.

Clothing

Packing/shopping for your new and exciting transitioning to Grand Rapids may be difficult. We are hoping that this section will provide some guidelines that may be a good start to help you prepare your wardrobe to combat the cold temperature that winter in Grand Rapids/Allendale brings. These may vary from person to person but these are some helpful guidelines.

  • Dress in layers;

This is a useful tip, as it is easier to take off clothes if you get too warm and cozy than to put on clothes that you did not bring if you get cold. Dressing in layers may mean to wear an undershirt, a t-shirt/shirt, a warm sweater and then a jacket, if you would happen to get too warm, you can take off your sweater, keep it next to you and put it on in case you get cold later on.

  • Wear accessories

Wearing a hat, gloves and a scarf may be very comforting as they will cover body parts that are most likely to be exposed to the cold weather. These are also easy to store in your backpack, so it is always a good idea to have these things on hand at any time, as unexpected weather may arise at any time.

  •  Wear warm and sturdy boots

Purchasing a nice pair of warm and sturdy boots is a really good idea. This would provide warmth, protection from getting your feet wet and providing grip to protect you from slipping on unexpected ice.

  • Dress accordingly to daily weather

Checking the daily weather is another good thing to do, this allows you to dress accordingly, as some days during the Michigan weather may vary greatly from the next.

Weather Expectations

To give you some perspectives on the temperatures during the winter, listed below is some of the temperature averages during the winter months. These may vary but it gives a general picture of what to expect once winter is approaching.

  • October: High 60°F / Low 41°F (15.5C° / 5C°) with an average of 8 days of rain
  • November: High 47°F / Low 32°F (8.3C° / 0C°) with an average of 9 days of rain
  • December: High 35°F / Low 23°F (2C° / -5C°) with an average of 10 days of rain/snow
  • January: High 30°F / Low 17°F (-1C° / -8.3C°) with an average of 9 days of rain/snow
  • February: High 33°F / Low 18°F (0.5C° / -7.7C°) with an average of 7 days of rain/snow
  • March: High 44°F / Low 26°F (6.6C° / -3.3C°) with an average of 8 days of rain/snow
  • April: High 57°F / Low 36°F (13.8C° / 2.2C°) with an average of 9 days of rain/snow

 

Weather Warning(s)/Advisory

Occasionally, you may get a message on your electronic device or from your weather source that pops up as a warning. During the winter months it is most likely a weather warning/advisory message. These are meant to inform the public if there is severe weather present or a possibility of it in the future.

Winter Storm Watch:

A Winter Storm Watch is issued when there is the potential for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It does not mean that significant and hazardous winter weather will occur...it only means it is possible.

Winter Storm Warning:

A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a significant combination of hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent.

Winter Weather Advisory:

A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued for any amount of freezing rain, or when 2 to 4 inches of snow (alone or in combination with sleet and freezing rain), is expected to cause a significant inconvenience, but not serious enough to warrant a warning.

Freeze Warning:

A Freeze Warning is issued when significant, widespread freezing temperatures are expected.

Things to do in Michigan During the Winter Months

It may seem that there would be little to do here in Allendale/Grand Rapids once the snow has starts to fall, however, that is far from the truth. People tend to replace their beach day with a day in the slopes at our many ski resorts or they will put on skates and head down to one of the many skating rinks that the area has to offer. If you are not interested in these kinds of activities, there are many other fun opportunities to take advantage of here in West Michigan.

How to get around

Getting back and forth between Allendale and Grand Rapids is possible and easily accessible by the The Rapid bus system and more specifically the route Laker Line. During the winter, delays are expected as harsh weather may slow down traffic resulting in delays.

More information and tips for riding with The Rapid in the winter can be found on the following link:

http://blog.ridetherapid.org/smart-riding-tips-for-winter-weather/

Student Resources

Winter season in Michigan can be difficult, especially for people where dark and cold winters is a new concept. We encourage people that find it hard to adjust to reach out for help if things get hard. There are plenty of resources that Grand Valley has to offer to help making things a little easier, especially during the winter months. Please reach out to these resources as they are here for you:



Page last modified November 16, 2021