I find Seattle to be cold for much of the year. People often find that strange, since Seattle’s winters are mild relative to other cities. Part of the explanation is that I’m a tropical gal who loves the heat and has little resistance to the cold. But after living in Salt Lake City for some of the time, I think it’s more than that. The bigger factor is that wet and grey feels much colder than dry and sunny, even when the latter is at a lower temperature.  

Winter temperatures in Seattle seldom fall below freezing during the day. Snow and slush are infrequent. But it’s very, very wet. It rains for much of the year. The damp wind penetrates warm clothing, so it’s hard to feel insulated when you’re walking outside. Skies are grey, and sunshine is rare. There’s no sun relief to warm you up. I’m always wrapped up, wearing thermals, a hat, a thick scarf, and fleece-lined footwear.

Winter temperatures in Salt Lake City are much lower, and it snows frequently. But it’s very dry and beautifully sunny a lot of the time. The cold doesn’t cut through to your bones, and you can insulate quite easily. The sun helps quite a bit during the day, and there isn’t often an icy wind to contend with. Despite the colder temperatures, thermals can feel too warm during the day.

When Sam and I do our 6am walk in Salt Lake City it is often -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) or lower. It’s very cold, but we manage just fine with the right layers and Winter accessories. Seattle with the temperature hovering a few degrees above freezing (Celsius) feels colder. I can wear my thermals, a long Canadian puffer, woolies, all sorts of Winter accessories, and still feel cold. There is little chance of overheating in a wet and cloudy cold. 

I was anxious about the winters in Salt Lake City, since temperatures are lower than they are in Seattle. I wondered what I would wear, given that I already wear all the warm stuff in Seattle. But I’ve coped well so far, and haven’t even needed my thermals yet. Still, the coldest temperatures in SLC are still coming and we’ll see how that goes.