I moved to Chicago during the winter, in a February, to be exact. I believed without any doubt that all of my years hardening myself from Buffalo winters was good enough preparation for anything Chicago winters could throw at me.
Turned out I was right. But that didn’t stop all of the people I met in Chicago from making excuses: “This winter wasn’t one of the bad ones! Wait until one of the bad ones!” “You haven’t seen the bulk of them!” When it finally became obvious that I wasn’t going to waver, the excuses came again: “Well, you spent your life in BUFFALO!” This was just as annoying because people who compliment themselves on how good they are at toughing out winter weather should be able to take anything thrown at them. I was in Chicago for the giant blizzard that hit in February 2011, an 18-incher which kept the city hoarding and indoors for three days. The primary veins of the city were dead, and on the initial night, people on Lake Shore Drive were trapped. The one time I saw people getting trapped in traffic in Buffalo, the people literally got out of their cars, walked home, and returned the next day to dig out.
Buffalo has a weather advantage in summer; the giant lake which annually dumps over 80 inches of snow on Buffalo plays the role of a giant air conditioner in the summer. The city’s hottest average summer month is July, in which the average high is a balmy 80 degrees. The humidity can make things tough, but as far as ordinary temperatures go, Buffalo has never hit three digits. Years literally go by between 90-degree days. The pleasant temperatures make even high humidity somewhat bearable.
I always told Chicagoans that if they’re trying to scare Buffalonians off with bad weather stories, forget the winters. Tell us how hellish the summers can get. Chicago hits 100 degrees every year, or at least it feels like it, and the humidity would shame the best Satan could ever concoct on his best days.
There were times I was hoping the gale force winds from Lake Michigan’s direction would throttle me, acting like a cool life breath as I roasted, soaked, and melted through the worst of it. There were days when I didn’t even mind the rain very much, which is saying something given the fact that I look for shelter at the lightest sprinkle. I always sweated the hardest in humidity, and would spend more time at the water fountains, buying sports and energy drinks, and trying to get myself into the air-conditioned buildings, believing those caught in the Buffalo summer humidity had it made.