You aren’t imagining it.
This unrelenting winter has been truly that.
Temperatures have been frigidly low. Snowstorms have sprung at us out of nowhere. The slush and ice have been everywhere – in our cars, on our boots, in our foyers and back hallways.
When was spring scheduled to arrive, again?
“It needs to be over,” said Kristin Scheda, 23, of Cheektowaga.
“It won’t end,” said Ariane Miller, 29, of West Seneca.
Pete Bialaszewski of Dunkirk put it this way: “This is an old-fashioned winter.”
That’s true – if the winters you remember are ones like retiree Bialaszewski recalls, with tons of snow and freezing cold that went on for days, if not weeks.
If you ask weather experts at the National Weather Service, they will tell you that the winter season has already produced well over two feet more snow than we usually get.
We’ve had more than 94 inches of total snowfall so far for the season – almost 27 inches more than normal.
Last year, we had about 58 inches of snow for the whole season. And the winter before, we had just under 37 inches. In other words, add up the last two winters, and that’s this winter in snow alone.
As for the cold?
We’re riding out a string of consecutive months that have all been below normal for thermometer readings.
January’s average temperature – 20 degrees – was about five degrees below average, making it the coldest of any month in about five years, the weather service reported.
For 10 consecutive days toward the end of the month, the daily low temperature was at or below 10 degrees – the first time that’s happened since 1979.
And that doesn’t even factor in wind chills, which frequently dipped into the minus-double digits, causing several rounds of school closings.
All this is wearing on the nerves of people across the region.
“My car’s a mess,” said Scheda. “I don’t clean out my car when it’s this cold because I hate to be outside.”
With a 9-month-old baby to look out for, Scheda said that outdoor play has not really been possible for much of the past several weeks. “We’re always in the house,” she said.
For Miller, the West Seneca resident, the weather has been more than mood-dampening.
“It’s been scary,” said Miller, who moved to the Buffalo area from Florida. “You have to really consider whether you need to go out.”
The toll that such a gripping winter takes on people’s moods and health is not imaginary, said experts in the area.
“At this latitude, more people are slowed down or openly depressed than in the summertime,” said Steven L. Dubovsky, professor and chair of the department of psychiatry in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo.
A large part of the problem is the amount of daylight people are getting, Dubovsky said.
“It’s the variance in available daylight that does it,” he said.
Light is crucial to health, and at this time of year we aren’t getting much of it.
“That will make people feel more susceptible to feeling helpless and overwhelmed,” Dubovsky said.
Hamburg resident Mark Diaddiaro, 56, said he’s noticed that the winter is putting people into bad moods.
“People are more down. More blah,” Diaddiaro said. “There’s no sun.”
One thing that might help people overcome the winter blues is finding a way to master some task, or facet of their lives, said Dubovsky.
“Pick something that you can see as a challenge, that you can overcome,” Dubovsky said.
Bialaszewski said this winter feels harsh coming in the wake of a few winters in these parts that seemed mild.
“I just wish it was over with,” he said.
“I don’t remember it being this cold before – in a long time,” he said. “Maybe in the ’80s. We’ve had mild winters for a while – they were great. This is bad.”
In a few places, though, folks are reaping some benefits from the tough winter.
At Maureen’s Buffalo Wholesale Flower Market on Ellicott Street in Buffalo, owner Maureen Bartley said that flowers are selling well this winter.
She thinks it’s due, in part, to them being sought out by winter-weary people looking to put some life and color into their homes.
“On a really cold day, it’s really warming in a room,” said Bartley. “It definitely changes it – it definitely does.”
At 7Kids Play, a children’s enrichment center in East Amherst, co-owner Lucy DeStefano-Wells said that after the worst of the winter storms, it seems like families are coming out again more to look for activities.
“It’s starting to pick up now that people are starting to deal with it,” said DeStefano-Wells. “We were pretty busy on Wednesday and Friday.”
“I think people are sick of sitting home,” said DeStefano-Wells. “The kids are getting antsy.”
As for Scheda, she said she is eagerly awaiting spring and summer.
“I’m ready to go kayaking,” she said.
News Staff Reporter T.J. Pignataro contributed to this report.