Your Salem Winter Survival Guide

As Oregonians (born or naturalized), we pride ourselves on being impervious to rain. We joke about nine months of darkness and remind out-of-staters that our summers are just better.

Still, strength like that takes discipline and practice.

Salem averages 208 cloudy days each year, including 147 where it actually rains.

Those yearly numbers understate the fall and winter in Oregon. What we typically lack in freezing temperatures we make up for with an all-consuming grayness, because those dark and rainy days aren’t equally distributed.

From October through March it’s more likely to be raining in Salem than not, and nearly three of every four days are cloudy.

How do we put up with it? We asked you to show us your favorite ways to survive the darkness by tagging photos #salemis on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. With your tips in hand, we’ve assembled our seven-part plan to beat back the SAD.

1. Inside is the New Outside


Phil Decker showed us what his kitchen is like this time of year, with grandkids moving in all directions. Step 1: If the outside is not cooperating, move your activities inside.

2. Find a Flame


On Facebook, Laura Sauter had a similar thought, but instead of action she went for comfort. Step 2: Find your favorite people, a big chair and a cozy fireplace, and hunker down for the duration.

3. Warm Beverages


My own personal favorite for winter is to find a spot on the couch with a book and a large cup of coffee, but this can be repeated at any of the coffee shops scattered around Salem (you can guess which one I like best). Step 3: Get a mug of your favorite warm beverage. I highly recommend combining steps 2 and 3.

4. Appreciate the Sun When You Can


Salem Is co-editor Sarah Evans shared a photo from Englewood Park on one of those rare winter days when it isn’t cloudy in Salem (we’ve been lucky to have many of them recently). Step 4: When vitamin D is available, stock up. You don’t know when you’ll get another chance.

5. Go Shopping!


On Instagram, carmen2pequi showed us her favorite winter pastime: shopping. With the holidays in full swing, this is a great strategy. Many of us need to buy stuff anyway, so why not try to enjoy it? Step 5: Go and buy things that make the indoors more fun.

6. Get Some Color


Another of Phil Decker’s standbys is going to the few places in the area that still have some color in winter. This photo is from a “sea of poinsettias” at Al’s Garden Center in Woodburn. Step 6: Find ways to bring color back into your life while the sun takes a break.

7. Get Out of Town


As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and sometimes any good relationship needs some time apart. If all else fails, put Salem in your rearview and find somewhere warmer. On Facebook, Andrew Lane sent a photo from Mexico, where he and his family spent some time this month. Not jealous at all. Step 7: Head south until you can comfortably wear your Keens without wool socks.

There you have it. If you’ve grabbed some coffee in front of the fire with your family and a new book you just bought after a Mexican vacation and you’re still not ready for the rest of winter, well, you’re on your own.

Chris Hagan is a co-editor of Salem Is. He hasn’t owned an umbrella since moving to Oregon in 2002.