Climate Shock and Season Confusion Part I: Temperature Differences

One of the fascinating things about Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott is how few students are from Arizona.  The vast majority of Embry-Riddle students are from out of state or from another country.

Each student has a very different perspective of the weather in Prescott.  To me, a native Texan, the weather was really cold.  This blog entry is my story of adjusting to the different climate in Northern Arizona.

For the first nearly 19 years of my life, I lived just north of Houston, Texas in a town named Spring.  The story I was told about the naming of my hometown was that as settlers moved in from the coast they migrated out of the coastal plains and into the piney woods region.  As they reached the piney woods, all of the Texas wildflowers were blooming and they founded a railroad town called Spring. Spring, Texas is humid and warm for most of the year.  Until I left for school I didn’t really know anything else.

In Houston we joke that we have a couple weeks of fall, a couple weeks of winter, a couple months of spring, and nine months of summer.

Prescott actually has seasons.  Back home, during our two weeks of fall, the leaves usually just turn brown and fall to the ground.  There are few trees that actually change color.  Freshman year when the leaves on the trees were actually changing colors in Prescott, I collected several of them and pressed them between the pages of my text books. I then mailed them to my parents, instructing them to tape the leaves to the trees in our front yard to make all of the neighbors jealous.

Fall Folliage

Depending on which student you talk to, Prescott isn’t that cold at all.  During October, it is usual for the high temperatures to be in the 60’s and the low temperatures to be in the 30’s or 40’s. These are temperatures that I associate with the dead of winter in Houston.  We’ll occasionally get temperatures that cool or colder in Houston, but it’s much later.

I didn’t have any winter clothes when I started at Embry-Riddle at it was super cold.  Since then, I’ve stocked up.

I always find it funny when my friends talk about how warm it is.  My roommate freshman and sophomore year grew up just outside of Chicago, and she told me that November in Prescott feels like spring in Chicago. Sophomore year a group of my friends from all over the country was shocked to hear that I had never experienced a white Christmas. When the weather got down to highs in the 60s I was bundled up.  I got teased a little for it by Coloradans in t-shirts and shorts.

My friends were always teasing me about how cold I thought it was freshman and sophomore year.  I bought a puffer jacket and heavy wool coat at the beginning of freshman year with every intention of wearing them right away.  My roommate from Chicago asked me if I was crazy because it really wasn’t very cold out.  I told her I was from Texas, to which she threw her head back, laughed at me while shaking her head, and muttered “Texans.”

Telling people that I am from Texas usually makes them say “ah,” in understanding and acceptance of my foolish ways.  Sophomore year I went into the grocery store with my puffer jacket on.  The lady at the checkout asked me if it was really that cold out and looked out the window as if searching for the blizzard.  I told her that I was from Texas, so yes it was very cold out.  She laughed and said that she guessed it would be.

Chilling in my puffer jacket

The weather in Prescott tends to mess with my head.  Every year when the temperature changes in October, it tricks my subconscious into thinking that it’s time to put up the tree and start singing Christmas Carols.

The climactic differences between Prescott and Houston have caused me to contract a serious case of season confusion.  My weather and holiday associations are all muddled up.  I can never tell when one season is starting and when another is ending.  It feels like winter from October until April, with my previous winter experiences, and I it is very confusing.   My freshman roommate from Chicago had season confusion for the opposite reasons.  To her it just wasn’t cold enough to be the holidays yet.

Comments are closed.