Monday, November 29, 2010

Winter's Here

The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, the country’s lead weather agency, has a pretty tangible rule for the arrival of winter. When the median day temperature stays in the minus, the season Swedes detest is here.

We’re enjoying our first clear day in over a week. It’s been nonstop snow since last weekend and although the snowfalls have generally been light, the accumulations have added up.

It started with a few dustings that caused us to sweep our front walkway for the first time.

Pretty soon, our front yard had a nice blanket.

The city doesn’t bother making any serious effort to plow most streets in town, including the one in front of our apartment, because vehicles are required by law to use winter tires after November 1 each year and Swedish drivers are more than used to these road conditions. Just not usually in November.

The same scene looked like this less than 48 hours later.

A couple more meters and the view from our living room will start to become obstructed.

We've stopped trying to keep pace with our white walkway.

Last winter was one of epic proportions for the entire country. Temperature and snowfall records were set from the north to the south, and people are freaking out because the first major snow this winter came almost three weeks earlier than last.

“Experts” — and why anyone would want the responsibility that comes with that title where the weather is so unpredictable is beyond me — have predicted a colder, wetter winter than last year. I scoffed at that until I read that the temperature in northern Lapland one night last week dropped to the lowest November reading measured in Sweden in 15 years: negative 36 Celsius. That’s –32.8 Fahrenheit, almost 65 degrees below freezing.

Even though our region is far less extreme than Lapland by comparison, the forecast for the next three days here says highs of –8 Celsius and lows of –14 Celsius.

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