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Weather & Clothing

Adjusting to Winnipeg Weather

It is a big adjustment to live in a climate which is very different from the one to which you are accustomed. In Winnipeg, there are four distinct seasons (summer, fall, winter, and spring) with temperature varying between -35 degrees Celsius in the winter and +35 degrees Celsius in the Summer. Depending on the season, the number of hours of sunlight can also change dramatically.

Many international students, particularly those from warmer climates, are worried about how they will manage winter in Winnipeg. Even students who have been in Canada for many years struggle with how to deal with the winter in Winnipeg. The good news is that with proper winter attire, winter can be manageable – and even a lot of fun! IIRSS hosts numerous workshops throughout the year on how to adapt to Winnipeg weather and culture. Please see the event section of our website for more information.

Here are a few tips which may help you to get by in Winnipeg’s winter:

  • Stay warm, but get outside!: There are lots of fun winter activities to enjoy such as skating, tobogganing, skiing, snow shoeing, walking, curling, and hockey.
  • Wear layers: It helps if you have an outer layer that is wind resistant. Buy a pair of thermal/long underwear to wear underneath your regular clothes on very cold days or if you are planning to walk outside.
  • Wear proper clothing: Wear a hat, mittens/insulated gloves, a scarf, insulated footwear (boots), a parka (winter jacket), and snow/wind proof pants (optional).
  • Stay dry: If you get sweaty, you will get colder. If you are planning to exercise or walk and will be sweating, bring an extra pair of clothes.
  • Cover exposed skin: This helps to avoid getting frostbite/frostnip on your skin and keeps you warmer. A scarf, hat, and mittens are helpful for this purpose.
  • Stay out of the wind: Because of wind chill, it will feel colder if you are exposed to the wind. If you are waiting outside, try to get inside a bus shelter, in between buildings, in lobbies, behind a building or tree to get out of the wind.
  • Drink something warm: ISS has free coffee, tea, and hot chocolate available every day in our lounge. Bring an insulated cup or mug with you to class or if you are going out to keep liquids hot.

Where you can purchase winter clothing

The quality and price of winter clothing can vary widely. Good quality items may cost more, but they will also last longer and keep you much warmer.

Second Hand Clothing Stores

  • Salvation Army Thrift Store (97 Sherbrook St.)
  • Value Village (1695 Ellice Ave.)
  • Just Like New to You (635 Portage Ave.)
  • And many more…

New clothing stores

  • Portage Place Shopping Centre
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) (303 Portage Ave.)
  • Sporting goods stores (Sportchek, Cabela's, Gord’s)
  • Department Stores (Walmart)

Helpful Definitions

Wind chill (or wind chill factor) is when the air temperature felt by exposed skin feels colder than the actual air temperature because of the wind. For example, you may hear that it is -20 degrees Celsius and feels like -33 degrees Celsius. It feels colder, because of the wind temperature.

Frostbite & frostnip is a medical condition where the skin (or other tissues) are damaged because they freeze. Areas furthest from the heart and exposed areas are at most risk (ears, nose, hands, and feet). For example, if the wind chill makes it feel between -28 to -39 degrees Celsius, exposed skin can freeze in 10-20 minutes. If you experience frostnip, you may feel some itching and pain on your skin and you may see patches of colour and experience temporary numbness. Usually with mild cases of frostnip, there is no long term damage and your skin will return to normal within a few minutes of going inside. You can prevent frostnip and frostbite by dressing properly and covering exposed skin. On the coldest days of the year, avoid going outside for long periods of time.