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Old 04-14-2012, 05:31 PM
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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What are your standards here? I would say the basic standard is anywhere with snow cover throughout the winter.

In the Northeast, we get some years with a lot of snow, and other years with hardly any. Also, sometimes when it snows, we get a 50 degree day shortly after and the snow melts quickly. I would say a true winter climate would get significant snowfall pretty much every year, with temps cold enough to keep the snow on the ground through the majority of the winter. One or two thaws during the winter is probably acceptable, but 85-90% of the winter should have snow cover. Also, i don't think a true winter climate would have any "miss" years where you don't really get a winter.
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Old 04-14-2012, 05:51 PM
Location: Leeds, UK
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Any climate that sees snowfall annually. We don't get great amounts of snow here in Leeds, but we've never had a snowless year before.
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:00 PM
Location: Broward County, FL
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Depends what you mean, do you mean a "winter-dominating" climate (which cool/cold weather dominates the year) or a climate with "real winters" but not necessarily winter-dominating?
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Old 04-14-2012, 07:36 PM
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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For me, any Koppen D climate or colder. So, even some really cold climates like Reykjavík don't have "real winter" by my standards.
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Old 04-14-2012, 07:41 PM
Location: Vancouver, BC
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IMHO.. I think any climate where plants go dormant for a part of the year due to cool/cold weather has a real winter.
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Old 04-14-2012, 08:00 PM
Location: Laurentia
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A place has a real winter by my standards if there is snow cover through the duration of the winter, and it must dominate the winter in the vast majority of years. A few brief periods of bare ground is acceptable in this category, but they can't last longer than around 3 days; this must also occur in the vast majority of years. Also snow must be the dominant form of precipitation; rain should be the exception, not the rule.

Generally speaking a climate that averages -7C or lower in the coldest month will have these characteristics; this is cold enough to be securely below the persistent snowpack line (-3C) so that it will still have a persistent snowpack during most of the mild winters.

Lpfan is right in his determination that the Mid-Atlantic has a distinctly much less intense level of winter than places that have a persisting snowpack, and I concur in his assessment that that place doesn't have a real winter. Of course "real winter" is distinct from other still less intense levels, the warmest of which is just plant dormancy (however in my view dormancy counts for virtually nothing on the scale of winters, if that makes any sense).

A different and much more important level of winter weather is what I call "high winter" or "deep winter"; this is the true level of winter where the full power of the season comes to the fore. I draw this line at 25/10F; places that average that or colder for at least 2 months of the year qualify. This is the rough boundary where snow cover is guaranteed even in the warmest winters; snow cover is usually long-lasting and deep in this zone, with only minor thawing at best. In addition to that temperatures remain below freezing for the vast majority of the winter, and snow is nearly the exclusive form of moisture, since plain rain in the winter is rare. This is also the zone where snow will usually be powdery in consistency as opposed to wet snow. Cold snaps are usually more frequent and intense in the high winter zone as well, with subzero temperatures being commonplace in even the warm end of this zone.

Unsurprisingly being in the high winter zone is essential for me to give an A grade to any climate . Interestingly it seems to be a real boundary - if you look at the North American snow cover during the barest periods of the winter of 2012 the snowpack boundary roughly corresponds with the 25/10 line. Even I was surprised as I had no idea that it had such an effect. Also, there's a significant difference between a southern New England winter, a Lansing winter, or a southern Minnesota winter, and winter in northern New England, Upper Michigan, and northern Minnesota/Manitoba, and this line seems to encapsulate that distinction.
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Old 04-14-2012, 08:14 PM
Location: Iqaluit
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At least three months with mean temperatures at or below -5C to -7C...is what I would consider a climate with a true winter.
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Old 04-15-2012, 01:20 AM
Location: Valdez, Alaska
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Originally Posted by Candle View Post
At least three months with mean temperatures at or below -5C to -7C...is what I would consider a climate with a true winter.
I also think I'd set the standard based on temperature rather than precipitation. That's the basis for what I think of as summer as well (for example, Arizona and Florida both have hot Summers despite one being dry and the other wet). A very dry place with consistently below freezing mean temps for three months seems like it would qualify as
having a real winter. Just not a very fun one.

And there's always going to be variation from year to year. There have been a few years here with bare ground until January or even February, and I'm pretty sure most people would agree that this place has real winters.
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:33 AM
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A "true" winter, for me, would probably have the coldest month with a mean temp below 10C / 50F.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:55 PM
Location: Newcastle NSW Australia
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Since there are no continental climates here, generally any place that sees the occasional snow-fall, has consistently low maximums (often at or below 10C), and has at least a month (not continuous) of frosts.
Only a handful of inhabited places here I would classify as having a true winter.
These places often advertise as having "4 season climates", and even grow cool climate wines.
In NSW this would include Orange, Oberon - Blue Mtsn, Goulburn- Southern Highlands, and probably the Armidale-New England area.
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