Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian: Are you curious about Buffalo?
Prepare to eat, and get a plow contract.
I’m no hockey star, but I share an odd distinction with Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian: I’ve lived in both Winnipeg and Buffalo.
If the former Winnipeg Jets are curious about their new home, here are a few tips:
In terms of temperature, Buffalo is warm when compared to Winnipeg; there are far fewer backyard hockey rinks. That’s not because ice is going to melt, but rather because shovelling the rink would be a full-time job.
Due to lake effect snow, Buffalo gets about 238 centimetres of snow a year, but it depends on where you live; there’s more snow in some areas than others, so ask your real estate agent. She’ll laugh, but in brief, south and west of Lake Erie gets more snow. Still, once you’re up to over 90 centimetres in a single storm, what’s a few centimetres either way?
For an average person, that means shovelling your driveway roughly three or four days a week during the winter. During a big snowstorm, it means shovelling several times. It’s much harder to shovel 30 centimetres of snow at a time!
Of course, you’ll be able to afford a plow contract (see second point of advice).
True story: Once, we went to see a Harry Potter movie and came out to 15 centimetres of snowfall on our car. Everyone walked through the parking lot brushing off snow on random cars until they found theirs, and then started digging out!
Carry a snow shovel in your trunk, along with other emergency snow supplies. You’ll need it.
Buffalo knows how to plow. If you’ve got cash, (and based on Kane’s twitter feed, he does) consider a plow contract.
Depending on when you’ve got to be out each morning, how deep the snow has to be before plowing, and how often you want it cleared, you sign a plow contract to have a company to remove that snow for you. They’ll work 24/7, starting with the first sign of snowfall.
Correction: In Buffalo, when the weather says “flurries”, they mean two to eight centimetres of snow. Nobody rushes to plow such trivial amounts as an emergency, but you’ll be able to see pavement in a few hours. Why? In Buffalo, plowing doesn’t just happen every so often. It’s part of daily winter life. They don’t take weekends or holidays off either.
Expect to see plows out all the time.
Day or night, large plows will clear the streets, starting with the first flakes of snow and continuing until the job is done. If you’re trying to drive on the highway during a storm, your safest bet is to follow the plows (at a safe distance) to your exit.
I drove 30 miles (48 kilometres) each way to work every day in winter in Buffalo. It was fine — every single road was clear. During an ice storm, all the stoplights were out. Still, I made it home safe and sound. Those folks know how to drive (and plow, sand and salt) in winter.
3) Snow disposal
Where does it all go? The city of Buffalo dumps snow in the lake. There are also colossal snow mounds in every mall and church parking lot. Sadly, in the spring melt, people often find dead bodies in the snow mountains….sometimes older people with dementia or victims of crime.
4) Grocery shopping
Rejoice! Wegman’s and Tops, large grocery chains in the area, are the best one-stop shopping I have ever encountered. For many Buffalonians, eating is a winter time entertainment, and the grocery store is well worth a long visit. A great variety of ethnic food, produce, and every kind of processed food known to man is available. You’ll eat well!
Did I mention this? Eating is a big topic in Western New York.
Buffalo has strong ethnic communities with amazing, affordable food to match. Heroes, grinders, subs or whatever you call them, are outstanding. The Italian cold cuts are an art. There’s also every other kind of food you can imagine, but obviously, it is well worth your while to eat real Buffalo wings and “beef on weck” whenever you get a chance. Please. Do it for me. I miss it.
6) Cross border shopping
Niagara Falls, Ont. is just across the bridge. If you’re longing for something Canadian, you’ll have a place to spend your loonies. Given the current strength of the US dollar, it’ll be a deal — not that you’ll need one.
The hills in New York state are gorgeous, and there are enough big ones for skiing. Since the roads are plowed, one can enjoy the scenery on the way to the slopes.
Oh, right, you play hockey. Sorry.
8) Sense of humour
Even though I’d lived in upstate New York before, Buffalonians asked me all the time if the winter was “long enough for you?” or if I’d had enough snow yet. I’ll give you a shortcut for the jibes. Mention you moved from Winnipeg, and say it just isn’t cold enough in Buffalo. When they look stunned, ask whether they have good gear for –40 C, cause you do….just sayin’.
For those moving here, the alternate response applies. Whenever Winnipeggers asked me what I thought of the harsh winter, I’d smile and say “there’s just not enough snow here for me, thanks.”
Maybe this hockey trade will be a good move for everyone!
Joanne Seiff is the author of two books and the mom of twin preschoolers. She lives in Winnipeg, but lived for a year in Buffalo and 4 years in Ithaca, New York. She still likes snow.