Tieg Paulson grew up in North Dakota so he knows the realities winter can bring. That’s why he said he feels he can handle skipping a heavy coat most days.
Paulson has worn a light jacket or sweatshirt all winter, and on occasion has even worn shorts despite temperatures ranging from an average of 13 degrees in December and 12 degrees in January.
“I usually choose to wear shorts and a jacket all winter because I have found it perks me up more in the morning like a shock,” Paulson said.
“I expect it more and know there are going to be points when it’s extremely cold and other times when it’s pretty temperate,” he said. “I’ll wear longer pants when the snow is above my ankles and it actually touches my skin.”
Tieg Paulson, 19, wearing a light jacket despite the 18 degrees wind chill temperature
Thursday. Although the temperatures are relatively cool in the morning hours, students wear lighter
layers due to warm classroom temperatures.
According to Fred Remer, an atmospheric science professor at the University of North Dakota, said the proper way to dress for a North Dakota winter depends on how acclimated a person is to the cold to begin with. Some days, a coat and boots is enough while the next day a coat, hat, gloves, wool socks and boots is more necessary. Overall, it depends on the individual.
Remer said there are many factors to consider to stay safe during the cold winter months.
“Acclimation is a huge factor,” Remer said. “In the spring, 37 or 38 degrees feels nice and students start wearing sweatshirts instead of winter coats, but in the fall the same temperature feels a lot colder.”
Remer also said that the length of time exposed to the elements play a big role.
“When the temperature is -25 to -30 degrees, it can only take several minutes to get frostbite, but walking to class without a coat when it is 30 degrees would be all right if for a short period of time,” he said. “Wind chill is also a very important thing to consider because of heat transfer.”
UND student Amy Park said she feels that winter weather safety is important.
“It’s pretty easy to prepare for an emergency,” Park said. “it’s weird when people wear shorts when it’s -20 degrees outside. People should dress for the weather because it’s super easy.”
Amy Park, 19, walking to class wearing winter jacket and boots. Although February temperatures have been
above average, Tuesday, February 2, the temperature was below average when factoring in wind chill.
Not all students will dress appropriately for the weather because they are acclimated differently. One person might wear shorts while the other might wear a sweater and jeans.
According to Remer, the correct way to dress for the weather is layers.
“When in doubt add more layers,” he said. “You can always shed layers, but it is safer to start with more and take them off as needed. When the temperatures are below freezing, skin needs to be covered if you are outside for prolonged periods.”
Although acclimation is a major player in winter weather dressing decisions, it is important to know when it is too cold to take any risks.
For more information on winter weather safety and tips, visit the Grand Forks National Weather Service Facebook page.