Finally snow in Tromsø, N.Norway

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Subject: Finally snow in Tromsø, N.Norway
From: "Vader Willem Jan Marinus" <>
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 09:55:18 +0100
                                        FINALLY SNOW IN TROMSØ, N. NORWAY

This has been a somewhat uncommon winter here in N. Norway (but then, they
nearly all are, the term most fitting to our climate is changeability). We
usually have a clearly Atlantic weather type, with depressions coming in
from the Norwegian Sea and passing into the Barents Sea. Here in Tromsø
that often translates into strong southwesterlies, often with rain,
followed by the winds veering to the NW, often with snow. But this year,
for some reason, we have got a much more continental type of weather, with
long periods of dry and quite cold weather (Not very cold, mind you, we
live on an island close to the sea and surrounded by open salt water);
last week we set a new January record with -15.4*C (In the inland it may
be -40*C under such circumstances). As even this year we have had a few
episodes with rain, and very little snow on the ground, the minor streets
and forest paths have been dangerously icy and slippery for a long time,
and everybody walks around with 'brodder', thin soles with iron studs
bound under your shoes; even so, the hospitals register many more broken
wrists and legs than normally.

We got the sun back, after two months below the horizon, on 21 January,
and by now it is already daylight for five or six hours, making it a
little easier to see the dangers underfoot. And two days ago, it finally
also started snowing, and now we have some 30-40 cm  (12-16 inches) of
fresh snow, while the temperature has climbed to just below freezing; from
tomorrow it will get colder again, though, with a return to the dry cold
weather and easterly winds for most of the week. This amount of fresh snow
would probably be a major problem many places in Europe and the US (where
people have to fight much more snow just now), but here people take it in
their stride, as a lot of snow is commonplace here, and both the town and
its inhabitants are well prepared; the sound of snow blowers is everywhere
in the air now. In fact , most Tromsø-people  welcome this snowfall, as
conditions finally get much better for skiing, which is a most popular
pastime here, where one can start almost from ones own door. (Just today
there are also the annual reindeer-sledge races in town---as there was so
little snow, the organizers have been trucking in snow to our main street,
the venue of the races, for days, not knowing that enough snow would come
just in time from above!)

So what about the birds? There there is very little to tell; last time,
when I posted, my year list was at five species, and by now it has only
climbed to 12, the lowest total ever in early February. My feeders hang
almost unused, and my garden only is visited by Magpies, Hooded Crows, and
the occasional Feral Pigeons.My daughters saw a Treecreeper in the
Folkeparken nearby, but it is not yet on my list (There was one in the
garden in December). What is on the list are the Cormorant, the Common
Eider, Herring and Great Black-backed gulls, Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Hooded
Crow, and Northern Raven, Great and Willow Tit, House Sparrow and
Greenfinch; there is a roving flock of some 30 greenfinches in the area,
but for some reason they seem to largely avoid my garden this winter.

So there are few birds to see these days----if I had worked harder, the
list would have been some 5-10 species longer: a few more wintering ducks,
the White-tailed Sea Eagle , possibly a Sparrow Hawk or Goshawk, and
somebody even reported a Gyrfalcon just a few blocks away fro my house,
plucking a crow. But the icy roads do not make for long walks---now, with
the snow, it will be a bit easier perhaps, even though my skiing days are
over. And the view from the windows is fantastic; everything is white, and
the snow falls so heavily that even now, 10 am, ithe skies seem quite dark
still, but the snow reflects the light beautifully. N-Norway is the land
of the midnight sun, but for the most beautiful light effects you have to
come here in winter, when daylight is at a premium.

Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum

9037 Tromsø, Norway

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