White Christmas at 70*N?

Subject: White Christmas at 70*N?
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2001 11:56:55 +0100


The 'local warming' here in northernmost Norway seems to go on and on and
on this autumn. A vast area of high pressure over Central Europe and
European Russia brings cold easterly air to SE Europe, while on its other
side all Atlantic depressions are forced into a  northerly course along the
Norwegian Sea, veering east into the Barents Sea afterwards. This means
regularly sleet and rain even on Svalbard (76*N!!) , while Tromsø time and
again has been the warmest spot in Norway during the latest weeks, with
temp up to  6-7*C above freezing. The good news is that my driveway no
longer is a steep skating rink (most of the ice has melted), but the bad
news is that much of the snow cover also is rapidly disappearing, and even
in my garden half of the lawn is again visible.

So what, you might think! But we need the snow to reflect what little
daylight there is, as the sun stays below the horizon all day. And with
dark, wet asphalt and brownish lawns instead of snow and ice everywhere
Mørketiden, the dark two months without sun, is really quite dark indeed!
(I heard the other day that a lady who had bought new curtains and wanted
to look at them by daylight before finally deciding to buy, had in despair
returned them to the shop: no daylight!!).
For the days ahead the weather will be more of the same: an endless
succession of SW strong winds with rain, dotted with some days with NW
stormy winds with sleet and hail. So even here, where such things usually
were taken as granted, we are now dreaming of a white Christmas!

These are bird lists, so one expects me to concentrate on bird sightings.
Unfortunately there is little news on that front, and what there is, is
hard to see in the dark. The general picture remains the same: I still hear
the chak chak chak of Fieldfares from the Rowan trees, there are great
Spotted Woodpeckers here and there, Great and Willow Tits empty my feeders
twice a week (but Bullfinches are still strangely absent there), and the
normal wintering ducks and cormorants dot the sounds around the island.
Also the Little Auks (Dovekies, if you prefer) still seem to be there, as
twice I heard from people who found one in a garden in town; with the
strong winds these days these small birds easily get blown of course, and
they have trouble launching themselves from land.

It is strange that we people are almost never content with our fates: Other
years we were grumbling because of a surfeit of snow and all the work
clearing it off our porches, driveways, and in extreme cases roofs. But now
that we do not have that problem, we yearn for some snow!! Merry Christmas
to all!

                                                                Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
                                                                9037 Tromsø, 
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