snow galore at 70*N

Subject: snow galore at 70*N
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2001 15:15:05 +0100

                        SNOWY LATE AUTUMN IN TROMSØ, N.NORWAY (69*50'N)

This is officially the last week that we can enjoy the sun above the
horizon in Tromsø, as four days from now it will disappear for two months.
These last days of sunshine around noon are always special; the sun is so
low on the horizon that your shadow stands very tall, 20-30 ft on the snow,
and the light is also 'different'. That is, as far as I remember from other
years, for this year the sun has been invisible to us behind leaden and
snow-filled skies already for ten days or so, and  we may well have to go
without it for the coming days too: the weather forecast is for more of the

Every morning the dominant sound is that of the snow-blowers, clearing
people's driveways, and this is a chore like dish-washing: it  has had to
repeated virtually every day this week. Not that we have incredibly large
amounts of snow as yet (February-April are usually the snow months in
Tromsø), but with > 3 feet on the ground we nevertheless can start ogling
the November record of 107 cm, set many years ago. There are still ca 2
weeks left of November, so if we don't get a really mild period soon (a not
all that improbable possibility this time a year) we have a fair chance of
breaking the record ---every cloud has its silver lining!

For the birds all this snow is not really favourable, but still much less
dangerous than ice or strong cold,---and it has not yet been really cold at
all, with temperatures only a few degrees below freezing, and today maybe
even a litttle above. thrushes still roam the town, though there may well
be fewer than before, and I have finally seen my first small flock of
Bohemian Waxwings around my house. great Spotted Woodpeckers continue to
delight the towns people, and I get several phone calls a week from people
who have one at their feeder and are greatly enjoying this here so rare
spectacle. Strangely enough the run on my sunflower seeds has decreased
appreciably; Great and Willow tits still visit regularly, but the need for
refill is maybe only half of what it was two weeks ago.

On the sounds surrounding the island of Tromsøya the usual wintering
dusckshave now arrived: the Mallards strung out along the shore-line, lots
of Common and a few King Eiders (most of the latter keep closer to the
outer coast), the cheerful Long-tailed Ducks, sedate flocks of scoters, and
here and there a  fishing merganser). We have got a scattering of Little
Auks this year (Dovekies, if you prefer), and some wintering 'white gulls'
(Mostly Glaucous, with now and then an Iceland Gull). On land the crows and
magpies dominate the picture, but Ravens are regular visitors and also this
year some White-tailed Sea Eagles patrol our side of the island.        

 In short, business as usual, apart from a surfeit of snow.

                                                                Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
                                                                9037 Tromsø, 

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