Hailing from sunny southern California, I was very excited to experience my first real winter in Walla Walla, where the daily lows are less than the 60-70 degrees I am used to.
While winters here are not nearly as dreary as they are in the other northern end of the country, being in the Columbia plateau creates cold weather patterns and often snow. Here’s what to do and appreciate to have a nice Walla Walla winter!
- Get an insulated waterproof jacket. Not necessarily a heavy parka, but something that can withstand rain and freezing temperatures that will keep you warm on the way to your morning classes. Patagonia and Canada Goose are popular brands on campus, but less expensive options work just as well. In fact, the $40 jacket I got from the children’s section of Target is the best one I have for the snow.
- Wear boots. Unless you’re my friend from Florida who wears Vans in the snow, you’re going to need to wear boots in the winter months. Lots of people on campus wear duck boots on campus because they are waterproof and will protect you from the mud puddles across Ankeny. Sorel and L.L Bean are frequently seen brands here. Rainboots of all sorts and any kind of protectant shoe work as well; frequently people wear ankle or Chelsea boots or weather-resistant combat boots also.
- Be prepared for inconsistencies in the weather. Last winter, Whitman was coated in two feet of snow from January until spring break in March, but there have only been about 4 days where there has been snow on the ground here since November this year. I love the snow and it is so beautiful here in Walla Walla, but the snow patterns change fast because temperatures usually hover in the 30s and 40s, only occasionally dipping into the 20s. When the snow does come to the Wallas, the way it sits on the mansard roofs of Prentiss and Lyman makes the whole campus look straight out of a Christmas card.
- Winter sports. Bluewood is the local ski resort about an hour away, and there is a free ski bus for students to travel there every Saturday! Whitman partners with them to create SSRA classes to learn to ski and snowboard (I’m taking beginning skiing right now) so there are many opportunities to hit the slopes if you don’t already know how. The OP also offers many excursions into the Blues and Wallowas for snowshoeing and Additionally, when there is snow on campus, many students can be seen cross-country skiing across Ankeny to class!
- The cozy atmosphere. It isn’t always pretty snow melts into a brown mush and the trees are bare, but you can always turn inside to one of the fireplaces in the dorms or in the basement of Reid for a nice space where students hunker down to do their studies.