Downtown Declassified: Weather you like it or not

MOVE columnist MacKenzie Reagan on Columbia’s crazy climate

Last Tuesday, I left my dorm in my new spring threads, enjoying the 70-plus degree weather. The sun was shining, the air was warm –– it was the type of weather that makes you want to dance around on the Quad to Vampire Weekend and sip lemonade.

That evening, I had to borrow someone’s fleece jacket on my way home –– sundresses are surprisingly not winter appropriate –– because I hadn’t quite prepared for the 30-degree drop in temperature that occurred.

Apparently, I’d missed the “winter weather warning” issued for later that night. Less boppin’ to Vampire Weekend, more shivering to Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The next day, it was in the low 40s. By Friday, it was back in the spring-y upper 50s. What the actual?!?

Now, I’m from D.C. I’m used to weather variety –– some days, it’s a bunch of hot air; other days, it’s Snow(den). We’ve got more types of weather than the Metro has delays, and our weather can change faster than the Capitals can collapse in the offseason.

But 78 and snow in the same day? That’s got to be some kind of record, right?


No, according to the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ Missouri Climate Center, the record for most weather variety in one day belongs to November 11, 1911. That day, Columbia temperatures reached a scorching high of 82 degrees before plunging to an icy 13 degrees after a nasty cold front swept through.

Upon further research, it appears Columbia weather has long disregarded societal seasonal norms. For example, Columbia’s snowiest year of the century was 1960, in which the city got a total of 49.4 inches of snow. And when did half of that snow fall? Mid-March, of course.

The years 1935 and 1936 saw the city’s most frequent occurrences of zero-degree weather. But the summer of 1936 was also the city’s hottest summer on record, with an average high of 95.3 degrees and an average low of 70.

This semester, we’ve seen temps as low as negative 17 degrees and as high as 74.

So, what gives?

Well, a quick Google search for “why does weather do the thing” proved most unhelpful. But while I may not be able to tell you why Columbia’s weather is so weird, I can tell you how to deal with it.

Step one: Pack a jacket. You won’t always have cute boys to lend you theirs. Be a strong, independent woman (or man) and always have a jacket (or sweater or parka) on hand for those unexpected drops in temperature.

Step two: Relatedly, dress in layers. It’s a lot easier to remove layers than it is to run back to your dorm (or worse, wait outside for a shuttle to your apartment) in the cold to go get more layers.

Step three: Always pack an umbrella (ella, ella, eh, eh, eh). Sometimes, it’s sunny. Sometimes, it’s raining cats and dogs. Sometimes, that changes within a matter of minutes. Find a small, cheap umbrella you can stuff in your backpack for any unforeseen monsoons. I can’t promise you’ll look as fierce as Rihanna, but at least you’ll be dry.

Step four: Subscribe to KOMU’s weather updates. They’re a great way to stay in the loop about what’s going on with CoMo’s climate in real time.

Step five: Laugh it off. There’s no use getting flustered over a little rain, or a sudden heat wave. Take it in stride, find the humor in it –– hey, you’ll never have to mess with stowing away out-of-season clothing. And, while it may be frustrating at times, at least it’ll never be boring.

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