Places with four distinct seasons?
February 7, 2017 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Due mostly to climate change, my hometown of Washington, DC no longer really seems to have four, distinct seasons. Today's forecast high in the upper-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit (about 18-23 Celsius) seems no longer all that atypical for an early February day, and it's now common for summery weather to last all the way through US Thanksgiving. Is there anywhere where people still experience the weather I was promised in the media of my youth?

Are there any places in the world that still meet the following criteria for distinct seasons? I apologize in advance that my criteria are pretty Northern Hemisphere-centric; please feel free to reverse the dates for Southern Hemisphere locations. (That said, I'm not entirely sure I could ever get used to a hot Christmas.)

1. Winter: the first frost happens in mid- to late November; and throughout December, January, and February, temperatures rarely climb above freezing. All precipitation is snow or ice, and significant snowstorms with anywhere from a few inches to a few feet of snow are common. A white Christmas is always a live possibility, and it's possible to skate on lakes and rivers in most of January and February.

2. March: must come in like a lion and go out like a lamb. The first week or so of March is blustery and freezing, but by the end of the month it's warm enough to go out in a light jacket. This is important enough that March gets its own category.

3. Spring: lasts from late March to the end of May. Gentle rain is common, especially in early spring; temperatures are pleasantly warm but not hot.

4. Summer: lasts from the end of May to the beginning of September (i.e., the canonical US summer: Memorial Day to Labor Day). Generally sunny, and hot enough to go swimming, camping, sailing, etc. Most precipitation comes in the form of evening thunderstorms.

5. Autumn: starts in early September, with cool temperatures, brisk air, and eventually, brilliantly colored leaves. Nights are chilly enough for bonfires, especially as it gets closer to the end of November.

6. Repeating for emphasis: this weather is very regular and predictable, and unseasonable weather is an extremely rare and noteworthy occurrence.

Is there a place where this fantasy is still real, in 2017, despite climate change?
posted by capricorn to Travel & Transportation (61 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Other than Spring in March, Minnesota still has all of this.

I mean, you're in DC which is, to my MN mind, pretty much South. So I'd say go north of where you are and you will find this.
posted by jillithd at 6:59 AM on February 7, 2017 [10 favorites]

Wisconsin and Illinois.
posted by erst at 7:02 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm in New Paltz, NY, and we have all of these seasons.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:04 AM on February 7, 2017

Best answer: you're going to laugh but Buffalo meets all of these

Winter: snowy as hellll
March: all of that happens (but in April most of the time)
Spring: April-May-June
Summer: oh my god, 75 and sunny with a breeze off the lake, festivals every weekend to take advantage of this, doesn't go over 90 too often
Autumn: yeppers. Great leaves, lots of apple orchards, etc
Repeating: like clockwork. The lake keeps things pretty regular. There are occasional off years, but those happen everywhere.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:05 AM on February 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

You need to go slightly north and slightly higher in elevation and definitely closer to the Great Lakes. I've always considered DC to have very mild winters (lived there, lived a bit south of there, laughed at what people considered "snow").

Here in Pittsburgh, it isn't so much that we've been across-the-board warming, but the weather has been more extreme in each direction, depending on year. It's been pretty variable this year, ups and downs (it's in the 60s today but by Thursday it'll be below freezing and snowing again), but in the past five years we've had winters where I was pretty much ready to end it all due to weeks and weeks of brutal cold and snow, well into March, and winters that were so mild my parsley became a perennial.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:07 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Regular and predictable may not be possible anymore. Even VERY far north things aren't the same. An Native Alaskan friend of mine was telling me up in Alaska that the weather has changed. It used to always get to about -70 up there and it hasn't been getting to lower than -30 for the last 15 years. His family's hunting has been greatly affected.

Things are changing everywhere but other than predictable what you are talking about sounds a lot like New England.

March has come in like a lion and gone out like a lion a couple years, though.
posted by ReluctantViking at 7:07 AM on February 7, 2017 [13 favorites]

Michigan fits most of these except for the oddly specific requirements for March.

But I don't know - I'm from the Midwest, although farther south than Michigan, and there has been unseasonable weather for as long as I remember. It's certainly more common now, but "regular and predictable" has never been a hallmark of Midwestern weather; in fact we took perverse pride in having the opposite of that...
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:07 AM on February 7, 2017 [6 favorites]

Well, New England would be a classic answer, but sometimes spring is very very short, like a couple weeks in April and that's it. I'd say autumn starts a little later than early September, too. Things aren't like they were when I was a child, though. I wouldn't call it all predictable, but we definitely have pretty leaves and four seasons.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:09 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would think Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and most of Northern Massachusetts would fit the bill!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 7:09 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My cabin in the Adirondacks, Hamilton County, NY has this. The only exception is that it rarely gets above 20F in the winter. I drive my truck on the lake every winter. By tax day as a rule of thumb, the ice is gone and the boats are usable. Summer in the 80s by day and 60s at night. Fall leaves from October to early November. The one issue with the weather is the first two weeks in June for black fly season. Weather is great. Bugs, not so much.
posted by AugustWest at 7:10 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I suppose you could fulfill your month of March requirement by simply adjusting your expectations for what kind of whether you find acceptable for "wearing a light jacket." In my experience, the tradeoff for consistent snowy winters is that springtime weather doesn't appear until the end of April.

Keep in mind that all these seasonal stereotypes were never about one place, but rather a collection of weather stereotypes from different places, and this rarely if ever appear in the same place over the course of a year.

I like New England weather, but the tradeoff is that you basically have to give up spring.
posted by deanc at 7:14 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Minnesota's winters are less snowy and cold than they were in my youth, but they're still a WINTER. I used to live in Northern MN and with the exception of the usually-warmer Lake Superior shore, they still get a good northwoods winter up there.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:18 AM on February 7, 2017 [11 favorites]

I live in Vermont. To the extent that ANY weather is predictable in the face of global warming, we sort of have this. But you might even want to go further north like Maine or even Montreal or Toronto.
posted by jessamyn at 7:19 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Worth noting: Minnesota sort of still has these seasons, but we're regularly getting spikes up into high heat in winter (tomorrow it's supposed to be in the forties; we've had weather in the fifties and sixties in December) and summer is getting longer and hotter. When I first moved here in the early nineties, things were reliably cooling off by mid-late September and summer weather really didn't arrive until late May or early June. Four years ago we had a week or so of summer weather in March.

We do reliably have a white Christmas, and most years it's still cold enough to ice skate at least part of the winter.
posted by Frowner at 7:19 AM on February 7, 2017

Erm, I took a closer look at your requirements. Northern MN winter will definitely stretch through the end of March, with probably a few decent snowfalls into April. Still nice though! The tough winters keep the riff-raff out.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:20 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: this weather is very regular and predictable, and unseasonable weather is an extremely rare and noteworthy occurrence.

This is a fantasy, yes, thanks to climate change.

I've always lived in New England (CT & MA) and had typical New England winters--snow and ice and cold, sledding, skating, snowmen, maple sugaring season. And now? Last year we had the coldest damn winter with the joys of the polar vortex with high snowfall and days of below-zero windchill and this winter we've had our snow and ice come down mostly as sleet and wintry mix interspersed with fifty degree days.

You can go northerly to get more of a winter, but the upshot of climate change is that all weather is going to irregular and unpredictable and trend toward extremes. And any place that currently has more regular and predictable season-following patterns is going to skew further and further from that within your lifetime.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:30 AM on February 7, 2017 [15 favorites]

Minnesota was the first place that popped into my head when I read this, so I'll go with the consensus. It's a lot more snow than you're used to dealing with, but they handle it much better. I don't know about your March requirements. March is usually the heavy slushy snow, melting and refreezing. Definitely not spring. But when it does arrive (usually in May), it is glorious. You can roll down the car windows and smell the flowers.

(Frowner, I remember the March heat wave. I had visitors from the Gulf Coast that week, and as a result, they though I was exaggerating about the cold and snow.)
posted by BlueBear at 7:32 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for all the answers so far! One clarifying remark: I have also lived in Chicago, Illinois, which definitely DOES NOT have a distinct spring and only barely has a distinct autumn (really, the seasons are 1) Too Hot and 2) Too Cold). If other parts of Illinois are different due to the mitigating lake effect, I will concede the point!
posted by capricorn at 7:35 AM on February 7, 2017

Yeah, your March requirement and your fully frozen lakes requirement are in direct conflict. Which one are you willing to adjust? (For what it's worth, DC has never met your frozen lakes requirement. It has to be really freakin cold for a very long time with no days above freezing in order for that to be safe. I've lived here on and off for 20 years and that has never happened here.)
posted by decathecting at 7:36 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Anywhere in the WORLD? The west (Japan Sea) coast of Japan still has this as far as I can tell. I have not lived there since 2012 (a lifetime in global warming years) but friends in the area still complain about the weather like clockwork. (Japan as a whole is all about their four seasons, but that specific spot is probably the only one that meets your snow criteria.)
posted by sunset in snow country at 7:37 AM on February 7, 2017

Much of the non-coastal Mountain West (ID, MT, WY, UT, CO) has exactly this.
posted by so fucking future at 7:40 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, your March requirement and your fully frozen lakes requirement are in direct conflict. Which one are you willing to adjust? (For what it's worth, DC has never met your frozen lakes requirement.)

OH FINE. Yeah, I'll give up the perfect March if I can skate on naturally occurring ice; also, per deanc's comment, I'm fine with March having a general warming trend rather than late March being actively pleasant. (But I've been enjoying the diversity of answers! I like that we have a little from Column March Is Proverb-Appropriate and a little from Column Skating On A Lake.)
posted by capricorn at 7:42 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: And yes, anywhere in the WORLD! (With the same Southern Hemisphere caveat as above.)
posted by capricorn at 7:45 AM on February 7, 2017

Best answer: Ithaca, NY
posted by melissasaurus at 7:47 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I went to college in Rochester NY and from my recollection it had all of this. As a Maryland native I was insanely impressed. The snow is serious business (still had school even after a storm dumped 4 feet!) and the summers are just perfect for festivals, camping, beaching at the lake, etc. Spring and fall were perfect in-between seasons with a hint of what was to come in the following months.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:51 AM on February 7, 2017

Most of upstate NY north of Route 17, and definitely north of the Thruway. One caveat: the larger Finger Lakes rarely freeze over because they are so deep, but skating on little ponds is definitely a thing. In terms of regularity, Ithaca had very little snow last year so I'd say it's the southernmost edge of what you want. But Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and the Adirondack region all have it in spades.

Madison WI has all of it but I generally agree with your Chicago point wrt most of the Midwest. They warm and cool quickly in comparison to the northeast US.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:54 AM on February 7, 2017


Citation? This doesn't describe Toronto or Vancouver/Victoria or the far north for sure. It might describe some places in Northern Ontario, maybe somewhere in the Atlantic provinces? You know Canada is a big place, right?


Weather reports for the last month show it regularly above freezing. This past December the temperature went up to 74 and the average maximum was above freezing. I suspect climate change has ended this pattern anywhere it once existed. I knew to look at Buffalo because even though it's colder and snowier than Toronto, I figured the basic pattern of random warmness in winter and coolness in summer, would be the same.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:57 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I live on the East coast of Canada. Pretty close to what you described, although the adage about March here is actually different - I've always learned it as "in like a Lion, out like a Lamb; in like a Lamb, out like a Lion", meaning that if March starts warm we expect it to snow again before the end of the month. It's no more accurate than a groundhog's shadow, of course, but it does indicate that sometimes it's still a bit blustery by the end of March.

But we have very distinct seasons that line up really closely with what you posted. Spring, summer, and fall foliage is all very distinct, with blossoms in the spring on crabapple trees (pink, red, white), full foliage in the summer on most trees plus lilacs blooming, and the classic red/orange/yellow autumn leaves absolutely everywhere in autumn. Then in winter, it's snow.

Sometimes it does get warm enough to go without a full winter jacket, but it never stays that way long enough to get rid of the billions of tonnes of snow once you get into real winter.

I remember exactly one "green Christmas", about two decades ago when I was a kid. It was "only" about 3-5 degrees C out and we had a watergun fight in our T-shirts, because Canada.
posted by one of these days at 8:00 AM on February 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

And it's above freezing and raining in Ithaca right now. Seriously, if you lived somewhere 20 years ago or when you were a kid or you have friends somewhere who complain about the cold in winter or the heat in summer, I wouldn't take that to mean they have this no-exceptions seasonal pattern that the OP asks for. They may have, way back when, but things have changed. Weird exceptions seem to have become the norm.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:03 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, and re: skating, my city has many outdoor rinks, but looking around at the main one it seems the scheduling for "free skate", "kids skate", "reserved day", etc., runs through March 31st, which is the last day they would maintain it (weather permitting). I'd say that's a good indicator for the longest they'd expect there to be naturally skate-able ice.
posted by one of these days at 8:07 AM on February 7, 2017

Best answer: I also came to suggest Buffalo gets pretty close. Exceptions:

I've only been here since 2007 but the winter pattern seems to have always been cold spells alternating with thaws and rainstorms, not usually a month where it never goes over freezing. But even mild winters, like this one and last year's, are still winters -- we know this is a mild year because we've only had about 40 inches of snow so far. And even in last year's mild winter, we had snow on 2 April. Frozen lakes common, including Lake Erie.

March mostly fits your bill except the point that goes out like a lamb is pretty consistently early-ish April, not late March, and spring definitely is April-May-early June.

Summer has been getting hotter and longer but I still think of real *summer* here as being July and August, not really including June.

By 1 September things have usually detectably started to cool and by mid-September we're usually just leaving the windows open most of the time. But things don't get "brisk" until October; that's when the heat might tick on and when I put the air conditioners away.

Following if I only had a penguin's comment, the writing seems to be pretty clearly on the wall and I don't expect this to last much longer. Weirdly, this may end up with Buffalo getting *more* snow -- our major snow engine is the lake effect off Lake Erie, which historically shuts down when the lake freezes over sometime in December. If the lake stays thawed, random cold pulses all through winter will pick up a crapton of moisture and dump it all on Hamburg and West Seneca.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:07 AM on February 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Microclimites are totally a thing. I'm in cottage country north of Toronto and fit most of your requirements (except March is always iffy); summer goes till the beginning of October and winter doesn't really get started till December. We get lots of snow and the water is frozen (try the ice fishing!) but not so much that we are snowed in. However the other side (east) of the Lake gets walloped with snow, and the summers are hotter there due the prevailing westerlies. I visit Toronto on a regular basis (maybe an hour and a half away?) and the weather is completely different, they had no snow on the weekend. An hour north of me I have had friends that have several feet of snow for a couple of months now. My snow is deep enough that I can only go halfway down my 150 foot driveway before my car is stuck, but not so cold or deep that trudging back and forth between the car and cottage isn't too onerous.
posted by saucysault at 8:10 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Where I live in northern Vermont there are 4 distinct seasons, though spring isn't as distinct as I would like. The timing isn't quite what you described, though.

Winter: The first frost may not come until early October, but is more likely to come in September, possibly even early September (but that's usually an isolated event and there can be several more weeks with no frost after that.) Temperatures are mostly below freezing during December, January and February, but in the last few years there have been more days when it warmed up enough to rain instead of snow. My kids were horrified when we didn't have a white Christmas last year, because it was the first time they had known that to happen.

Spring: March can seem like just another month of winter, but it starts feeling like spring in early March if you're paying attention. Grackles, blackbirds and turkey vultures start coming back, the days are sunnier and not quite as cold, sap starts running, more birds are singing. It gets springier and springier as March goes on. There's usually snow on the ground all month, but you have some days when you're skiing in just a light fleece jacket (or less.) The start of April is usually cold, with snow still on the ground. By the end of April, we may have had some days in the 70's that felt hot enough for kids to play in the sprinklers. April is the month when daffodils and tulips start blooming. Late April is when trees start to leaf out.

Summer: Just what you described, except the thunderstorms can come any time of day, and there is gentle all-day rain sometimes as well.

Autumn: Just what you described, except the nights chilly enough for bonfires start in September. November can have some really pleasant days, but is generally cold and dreary. (But with not enough snow to start winter activities.) It's the worst month in Vermont.
posted by Redstart at 8:12 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

The short answer, as others have said, is "the midwest". Buffalo (which I include as part of the midwest) and other parts of western New York are showing up frequently in comments here because of the snow criterion. Most inland areas in the midwest (e.g. Ohio, where I live) no longer have predictable snow, but the lake effect makes Buffalo snowier than most places. Buffalo, as If only I had a penguin... pointed out, is warmer than you might think, but in practice, it doesn't feel that way because there's snow on the ground and there's a breeze blowing off the lake. So while it technically won't hit your criteria, it will feel the way you're expecting it to feel. I just saw an article yesterday about icebreakers on the Buffalo River.

I think northwestern Michigan would also work. I've been in December, July, and August, and those months at least give you what you're looking for. Traverse City/Manistee/Petoskey area.

I've never been there myself, but from what I've heard, North Dakota might give you what you're looking for. From Wikipedia: "The state's location in the Upper Midwest allows it to experience some of the widest variety of weather in the United States, and each of the four seasons has its own distinct characteristics" If you're looking for a big-ish city, and you're open to Canada, you might try looking at Winnipeg, which is just north of the ND border.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:14 AM on February 7, 2017

Even though it is situated at 80° N latitude, you can cross Svalbard off your list - - it is experiencing record high temperatures.
posted by fairmettle at 8:18 AM on February 7, 2017

>And it's above freezing and raining in Ithaca right now. Seriously, if you lived somewhere 20 years ago

Which is why I pretty clearly stated it as the southern edge of the region. Why the gotcha phrasing? I have lived in Ithaca for 9 years and it's pretty close to what the OP has asked for, slightly to the mild end, especially downtown (on preview, what saucysault says about microclimates is true of anywhere near a lake and/or with significant elevation changes). I have a few inches of snow in my yard right now and my kid boot-skated around the driveway this morning waiting for the bus because that rain froze into a solid sheet. I haven't removed my earflap hat outside except for maybe two days since early November.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:20 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Upper Midwest?

That said, I live in NYC, which has similar weather to DC, albeit somewhat colder. I do feel like weird random weather events (polar vortexes, 60-degree days in February) are more common now than when I was a kid in the 1990s, and spring seems generally less consistent - although this could be my memory playing tricks on me.

But the fact is that the mid-Atlantic US never (at least not in recent times) regularly had winters where temperatures were below freezing nearly every day for months. Skating on rivers and lakes? I don't remember anyone ever doing that here, unless it was freakishly cold for an extended period. Sure, there were cold spells, but the prototypical NYC winter day from my childhood is, in my mind's eye, partly cloudy and somewhat (maybe three to ten degrees) above freezing. The "wintry mix" or freezing rain was just as common as puffy white snow, maybe even a little more so. White Christmases happened only occasionally.

Climate data from 1981 to 2010 backs this up. And New York is colder than DC.

While it's probably true that climate change has exacerbated this, weather in the coastal northeastern US has always been pretty inconsistent. The four-seasons climate you describe always had lots of variation baked in, even before climate change was a thing. That's how climates work.

Tl;dr: while weather probably has grown more inconsistent in recent years, I don't think the climactic pattern you describe was ever "regular and consistent." Certainly this was not the case in the northeastern US.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:22 AM on February 7, 2017

Here in the Netherlands, skating on natural ice every winter cannot be guaranteed anymore. So I think that in Europe, you're going to have to move further north and further land inward than we are,
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:24 AM on February 7, 2017

Best answer: This may also be helpful for you, especially the map. You're looking for Dfb areas, which is basically the upper midwest, New England, eastern Europe, and northern Japan.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2017 [10 favorites]

Here in the UK we get seasons but not as extreme as you're describing. My Bulgarian friend tells me that in Bulgaria they have "the same but more", which sounds like what you're describing. Colder winters (always snow) and hotter summers.
posted by greenish at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2017

Adding to the "the Midwest" answers: Iowa is very much like this.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another vote for northern (Lower Peninsula) MI. My dad's family lives right by Mackinaw and they go ice fishing every winter.

SE Michigan also generally has four distinct seasons, but sometimes you'll cycle through them all in a day or two, so there's always some unseasonable days scattered about.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:43 AM on February 7, 2017

Best answer: I grew up in Northern New Jersey (1970s & 1980s): the seasons then were *exactly* as you described, and I miss the seasonality, especially the extended spring from late March through mid-May. My relatives who still live in northern New Jersey report that the winters are a bit more mild now, so perhaps less ice in January & February, but otherwise much the same.

I have lived in Albany New York for the past decade and the seasons are *close* to what you're looking for with the exception of spring. Winter is cold, grey, snowy, and sub-freezing from Thanksgiving through late April, with the odd break into the mid-40s to low-60s for a week in late winter. Small lake & Pond Ice is definitely a big thing in December, January & February; ice racing - motorcycles, quads and cars equipped with tires studded with sharpened screws - is a significant recreational activity in this area. Spring is compressed into a 4-to-5 week period: last week of April through Memorial Day, then summer begins right around Memorial Day.
posted by Ardea alba at 8:45 AM on February 7, 2017

Best answer: Another vote for Minnesota. One dubious advantage of climate change is that our seasons have become noticeably more temperate, in that winter hits considerably later than it used to, and they've been more mild (snowfall has varied a lot in the last several years--we had one where we got almost no snow, and then the next year we had all the snow.).

We also have a pretty significant "winter outdoor sports" culture. Lots of people who play hockey, go ice-fishing and snowmobiling, skiing, and then there's the Winter Carnival. If you want to not just have seasonal weather, but also be in a location that makes a point of celebrating it, MN does that pretty well, in large part to a very agrarian endoskeleton that kind of seeps into every corner of the culture. The State Fair, enough said.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:55 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Definitely not Nova Scotia. Nothing is predictable along the coast. Stay inland.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:58 AM on February 7, 2017

You're looking for Dfb areas

Based on that map, just about every major city in Canada is in a Dfb area and as mentioned above Toronto does not fit into the criteria. I second what saucysault mentions, the micro climate north of Barrie but south of North Bay in Ontario (Parry Sound-Muskoka-Haliburton region) would fit your criteria I think. North of there the climate is different - colder.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:02 AM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that Toronto (and any city) will be warmer than the surrounding area due to the Urban Heat Island effect.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:18 AM on February 7, 2017

Michigan, really as much as anywhere.
posted by chocolatetiara at 9:28 AM on February 7, 2017

I'd say Eastern Ontario, where I am, more or less has this climate reliably. I lived in the Eastern Townships of Quebec when I first moved to Canada and oh my god was winter ever so fucking long. (The snow often didn't stay gone until mid-April or so.) Kingston seems to hit the four seasons notes pretty well; I've only had one green Christmas, but it tends to be way Christmassy without the possibility of too much snow (that happens in January/February). March starts off fierce and evens out by the end; the thaw definitely starts to happen for sure. I love our summers in that they aren't too hot like back home down South, but hot enough. I love love autumn in this part of the world.

So we might tick your boxes. You can skate on some inlet bits of Lake Ontario around here. Native residents still talk about how winters used to be so cold you could drive on the ice from Kingston all the way out to Wolfe Island. (The year round ferry does use a bubble system to break the ice to get from here to there.)
posted by Kitteh at 9:35 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Ottawa has a gorgeous fall and we are very interested in having rivers that freeze at least through February (the longest skating rink in the world...). Summers aren't quite hot enough for me but it does usually hit 90+ a couple times in July and August.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 9:59 AM on February 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

North Central Washington, e.g. Wenatchee -- except that the leaves aren't as dramatic as you're looking for.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2017

The vaguely middle area of Canada (alberta through quebec-ish, not sure about the east coast) is more or less like this, with a few exceptions.

In Ottawa for example, everything applies except we get a completely unreasonable amount of freezing rain in the winter for a city that also regularly gets below - 20C.

March weather is also unpredictable year to year but I'm not convinced any "4 season" city in the world has weather *that* predictable in March! Or any month really, depending how picky you're being about "predictable". Doubly so with the whole climate change thing going on.
posted by randomnity at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2017

I came to say Chicago and was surprised by your remark that Chicago has just 2 seasons, i.e., too hot and too cold.

Winter is cold and icy (though noticeably milder these days), summer heat and humidity eats away at the will to live, spring is marked by endless rain and flooded streets and basements.

Fall, however, is absolutely glorious. (I swear, Van Morrison must have been in Chicago when he wrote Moondance.)
posted by she's not there at 11:35 AM on February 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's been my experience in the greater Boston area though to be fair I've only lived here 10 years or so.

We get cold temperatures more reliably than we get snow, these days, but there's still 4 very distinct seasons (5, if you count mud season in March). It's part of why I love living here. Nothing as dramatic as my husband's upbringing in Northern NH, where winter starts in October and ends in April, but enough winter to really enjoy it.
posted by lydhre at 11:39 AM on February 7, 2017

Rochester, NY definitely has all four seasons, without as much snow as its siblings, Buffalo and Syracuse.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:15 PM on February 7, 2017

Another plug for Vermont, and particularly that you can vary your position North/South, within Champlain Valley or east of Green Mountains and elevation to tweak your personal living parameters. Spring comes in mid-April though (not usually March - with the exception of about six years ago), and happens quickly. Many folks find that cool/cold in the late November through early April timeframe is just too much, but that's the trade-off.

I have also lived in Albany, NY, Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh and one reason to move from Pittsburgh to Vermont was exactly your criteria.
posted by meinvt at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

all the upstate NY locations listed almost wholly fulfill your criteria except for the fact that summers have been lasting longer and staying obnoxiously hotter; i definitely remember close to 80 degree days in october in syracuse last year.

(update: dark sky's weather time machine tells me it was oct 18th)
posted by poffin boffin at 3:09 PM on February 7, 2017

Best answer: An upstate note: global warming means wild weather patterns generally. Last April looked like this in the Hudson Valley and this was last February. But still, seasons are still generally distinct here: autumn, winter, spring and summer. We even get those delicious summer storms.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 PM on February 7, 2017

Mainer here. Maine is like this. Avoid the coast, though, simply because we always get less snow on the coast.
posted by anastasiav at 11:28 AM on February 8, 2017

Northern Utah is like this. Really a lovely place to live, particularly the SLC/Park City area. Flagstaff, AZ might fit your bill, too. It's in AZ, but at 7000ft. Lots of snow, beautiful leaves, lovely summer forests.
posted by chuke at 1:34 PM on February 8, 2017

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