Sometime last winter I began thinking about how nice it would be someday when I’m older to spend the colder months of the year in a warmer climate.
When I started casually thinking about where, I got it in my head that Flagstaff, Arizona, would be the perfect place. No logical reason, just the beautiful landscape and access to medical care and a college campus and other cool things like the Lowell Observatory. Arizona is warm, right? Don’t lots of people spend their winters there playing golf? Plus you can get to Flagstaff by Amtrak, and I’m a huge fan of rail travel.
So then I started following Flagstaff on Facebook and Twitter, etc. And guess what? It turns out that Flagstaff isn’t quite the “warmer climate” I envisioned.
Flagstaff’s first snowfall of the season was October 7th, while Milwaukee’s first real snowfall this year (not just a few flakes in the air, but actual snow on the ground) didn’t come until the end of November. According to an article in the Arizona Republic, Flagstaff averages 101.7 inches of snow every year, while Milwaukee gets less than half of that (only 46.9 inches, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center). In fact, Flagstaff has had several snowstorms this season already, but Milwaukee has seen mostly rain. We have no snow on the ground in my neighborhood, and it’s raining today.
While at an academic conference in Chicago last week, I checked the local forecast to see if I needed to wear my scarf and gloves outside my hotel. On a whim, I also took a look at Flagstaff’s forecast.
Flagstaff was colder than Chicago! As proof, here are the screenshots from my phone last Friday.
The moral of my little story? Well, just this, I guess: It’s important to do your homework and NOT make big decisions on the basis of assumptions. I do look forward to spending time in Flagstaff at some point. But I don’t think it’s ever going to be my winter home 🙂