In places where the weather has already turned wintry, protester attendance has dwindling, giving Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York good reason to worry about how cold weather may mute their movement. There's already a growing concern among Occupy Wall Streeters in New York (and the hope of the less supportive Mayor Bloomberg) that the coming winter will bring an end to the outdoor encampment. Daily Intel's Alex Klein writes:
Organizers admit that the protests may not be able to survive the winter in their current form ... The occupation has already seen more than a half-dozen cases of hypothermia as nighttime temperatures have dipped into the forties. As relayed by Occupy's very own meteorologist, rain is due on Wednesday and there could even be snow this weekend.
But rather than imagine the horrors that may await them, protesters could simply look to a few unusually severe locales this week to see whether their weather woes are merited. From what we've seen so far, they've got cause for concern. Here's a run-down of three now less-occupied cities facing sub-freezing temperatures this week.
- Denver, Colorado Yesterday's low: 30 degrees. As President Obama noted on his visit there today, it snowed quite a bit in Denver, Colorado last night. How'd the protesters do with a near 10-inch snowfall? Not well. New Yorkers worry how they will fare while the city continues not to allow tents in Zuccotti Park. But even with tents in Denver, two protesters were hospitalized, and the local Westword blog reports their numbers dropped from 80 to 20 overnight. With more sub-freezing temperatures predicted for this week, we don't imagine they'll come running back from the hospital, either.
- Winnipeg, Canada Yesterday's low: 28 degrees. Winters get pretty terrible in this inland Canadian city. A march brought out 400 protesters about a week ago, but when temperatures dipped below freezing the next day, only about 20 protesters remained. They're likely to face a much more severe weather than New York, but Winnipeg also seems to be allowing them tools the New Yorkers have been denied. They've got tents, a wood fire, and solar-powered ovens to keep them going, reports Winnipeg's Metro News, and those that remain seem ready for the worst.
- Spokane, Washington Yesterday's low: 28 degrees. Temperatures have repeatedly remained below freezing here, and though a march last week had about 300 people show up, and at least a dozen or so have remained on a traffic island since the movement began, only about one or two remain, reports the Seattle Times. "I'll be out here as long as it takes," one of them told the reporter.
Meanwhile, cities like New York and Boston have a little while longer to plan, or just lower expectations. As one protester tell's Daily Intel's Klein, "People can't stay here indefinitely. It will fizzle out." Or, as a more optimistic protester spun the predicted drop in numbers, "The quantity of [occupiers] will go down, but the quality will go up."