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Does Cleveland Have Bad Winters?

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If you’re thinking about moving to Cleveland, the weather will certainly be a factor. Cleveland is undergoing a sort of renaissance. After decades of slow economic growth, there has been an uptick in investments targeting a revitalized downtown and more people moving to the area for its low cost of living and other benefits.

But before you join the crowds and start planning your way to Cleveland, you have to consider what can be intense winters full of snow that last for months.

Does Cleveland have bad winters?

Well, the city and state are located in what’s called the “Snowbelt.” It’s the northern part of the central United States that gets a lot of moisture in the form of rain and snow.

cleveland winter

Winters in Cleveland can feel especially dreary at times, with stretches of overcast weather and shorter days. There are snow delays at schools and sometimes it can be hard to get to work after a snowstorm. The city is doing a good job of addressing weather concerns, so disruptions are kept to a minimum, but sometimes they can’t be avoided.

For people moving from warmer climates, Cleveland winters are a shock. However, the cold is part of the city’s allure, and long, intense winters have shaped the people and businesses there, making them resilient.

The Cleveland Winter Season

If you ask most Clevelanders, you’ll probably hear that they don’t mind the winters, but that they just wish that they were about a month shorter. People learn to love the snow and all of the outdoor activities in the area that snow brings. They simply don’t want it to last as long as it does.

There’s something about having harsh winters that makes you appreciate the turn of the seasons even more. Coming out of a cold winter into a warm and blossoming spring is a wonderful experience.

Generally, you can expect winter in Cleveland to last between November and April. However, the most intense winter months are usually January through March. Three months of heavy snow and low temperatures is a lot to handle for people new to Cleveland, so you had best come prepared.

cleveland heavy snow

Cleveland Temperatures Aren’t Extreme

One nice thing about Cleveland and the rest of Ohio is the absence of extreme temperatures. People in California have it good in the winter, for instance, but summer heats are unbearable. In Cleveland, the swings in weather aren’t as pronounced.

Yes, it’s cold, but it doesn’t get too cold. Summers are hot but not too hot. We stay in a pleasant band of weather where you get a good taste of all of the seasons every year.

That’s not to say things don’t get cold. It’s very cold in the winter in Cleveland, but the city gets its fair share of mild winters as well where you can still get outside and enjoy nice, sunny days.

Things pay off when winter is over. Cleveland has some of the best spring and summer weather you’ll find anywhere.

The Lake Effect Snow

Ever heard of lake effect snow? When storm clouds gather near or around lakes, they pick up added moisture from the water. This makes the snow much heavier and intense.

What happens in Cleveland is that different parts of the city and various suburbs can get vastly different amounts of snow in a short period.

This can be great news for people who love to cross country ski or grab a sled and head out with the kids. Not so much for folks who commute to work when there is a foot of snow on the ground.

snow plower

Cleveland Is Prepared for Heavy Winters

One of the nice things about living in Cleveland is that the city handles whatever comes its way in the winters! There are plenty of snow removal trucks on hand, and the city’s infrastructure is designed and built to manage the snow and colder weather.

If you get snow in a place that doesn’t get a ton of it, everything screeches to a halt. Suddenly, no one can go to work, and everyone forgets how to drive.

Not so in Cleveland. For the most part, people carry on with their lives and work around the snow with very few issues. Most of the time, the streets are clear before you walk out the door to get in the car and head to work.

Expect Lots of Snow

If you love snow, Cleveland and the surrounding area is a fantastic place to live. For the past 50 years, the average snowfall each year has been around 60 inches. That’s five feet of snow every year! This isn’t the place for you if you love a slight dusting of snow once or twice every year.

Snow is part of living in Cleveland, for good and bad. The suburbs around Cleveland vary a bit, but generally speaking, people are going to see and have to deal with feet of snow every winter.

skiing at a ski resort

Plenty to Do in Winter

Clevelanders don’t just sit at home for months waiting for the snow to disappear. We get out there and have as much fun as possible no matter what the season is. In Cleveland, you’ll find plenty of people playing hockey outside, skating, sledding, snowmobiling, and doing other outdoor activities.

There are several winter concerts and other community activities around the holidays. People love these deeply-held traditions in the area.


If you’re looking for a place with four distinct seasons with a lot of snow every year, give Cleveland a look! It’s a great place that’s on the upswing, and people are moving here for the culture and a chance to be a part of this historic city’s renaissance.

With a revitalized downtown, successful sports teams, and plenty to see and do, there is something for everyone in Cleveland.

Now, with more people working remotely, there’s more opportunity to look at the quality of life in more places and choose a spot to live that fits what you need to be truly happy.

Welcome to Cleveland!