Ice fog and hard rime

When it’s cold – -17 °C yesterday morning – and large parts of the Baltic Sea is still open ice fog forms over the sea. When this fog turns to the land hard rime will cover the bare trees making them look like fragile snow sculptures. A wonderful view.

Skiing through the winter forest

It’s -18 °C and the sun is shining. 60–70 of powder snow cover the ground. We ski through the wintry forest following a narrow trail that other skiers have carved into the snow. We cross a snow mobile track that in turn crosses a snow covered bog. We enter another snowy forest.

It’s only a day trip and soon we arrive at the forest cabin which is open. We are alone and make a small fire in the oven while I try to take pictures of the Siberian jays but they are shy.

I just love Lapland in winter!

But …

This is not Lapland. It’s the Västermark nature reserve and this is just 77 km away from home. Annika and I went there last Sunday to enjoy the great winter weather and so we made our first little backcountry ski tour together this winter. More to come …

 

Translation:

EnglishGermanSwedish
Siberian jayUnglückshäherLavskrika

Embracing the winter

Today? Thursday. A normal working day at my home office in Obbola, Sweden. Well – almost.

(1) There’s this incredible view from my home office.

(2) … and the possibility to take a small break and plunge through deep snow. First to our “own” bay Grundviken, then to the coast. The ice fog above the open sea glows in the rising sun.

(3) … and the after-work cross-country skiing on “Olles Spår” together with Annika. It’s -19 °C but as long as you are moving, you stay warm.

After that: Thai food. Then home. Hot shower. Outside temperature: -20.4 °C, this winter’s coldest day yet.

Ski premieres 2021

The first ski premiere was already last Saturday. We were not the only ones who read that Olles Spår, a cross country ski track northwest of Umeå was freshly prepared. The parking place was filled with eighty other cars when we arrived. We took the 5 km lap. Oh, so nice to be able to ski again!

Being back at the car there were even more cars. They filled the parking place and parked along the road as well. But at least one of the skiers didn’t came by car but by bike.

Today I had my backcountry premiere. I was so eager after the snowfall yesterday and last night.

It took some preparation. First I had to dig free the garage door to fetch the old skis (the new ones are in Tromsø). Then I had to thaw the door look of our house with a hair dryer to be able to lock the door. But finally I could start. I took the way to our beach Vitskärsudden but as expected it looked quite different from last week.

The car roads were cleared but there was just enough snow to ski. The plain was partly easy to ski, partly the snow was so loose that my skis went submarine. Here I heard and felt the first **whooop**, the sound of a larger area of snow settling under my weight. A clear sign of avalanche danger in the mountains but no problem here.

And then I arrived at the beach. While the sea was open again, the beach was only ice and snow. Probably the ice floes that prevented our previous winter bathing had been washed ashore yesterday morning, when we had a water level of +60 cm.

I decided to follow the shore to the left. I never went there before. There were snowdrifts where I sank to my knees with skis on and I know that there are a lot of rocks, but skiing went better than excepted.

Oh – so many motives. But this tour was only an extended lunch break from work. I didn’t have as much time as desired. Following the coastal line slowed me down because of the uneven and icy underground and finally I had to go back into the forest.

Anyhow I was slowed down even more in the forest because the snow was so loose that I got bogged down to the ground all the time and then my skis got caught in the underwood. I was glad when I reached a road again. Now I just headed back until I arrived home two hours later – later than planned.

And after the ski tour? Back to work!

Fresh snow fell home over night

After yesterday’s snow, that mostly hissed by horizontally due to wind speeds up to 24 m/s the wind was calming down over night. To my surprise 20 additional cm of snow fell on the ground last night without having being blown away.

What a wonderful winter morning. Hardly any wind, still snowing, -7 °C and our house dressed in white velvet.

Heavy wind, heavy snow

It started with a class 3 warning snowfall for Västernorrlands län, that the Swedish weather service smhi issued yesterday. Class 3 warnings are the most severe warnings in Sweden and the last class 3 warning for snowfall happened ten years ago.

Still yesterday: Let’s check the amount of snow:

Obbola, where I live: 29 cm until Wednesday. Umeå – 20 km north: 46 cm. Let’s check Västernorrland: Örnsköldsvik would get already 76 cm of snow and in Drömme, 23 km west of Örnsköldsvik: 101 cm of snow (81 on Tuesday alone)!

As a hardcore snow lover I have to admit that I’m jealous and even a bit sulky. Why, oh why do all other places get much more snow than we at home!

In my old freelancer times I would have taken a day off and travelled to Drömme. But now I’m employed with much less spare time than before. In addition to that I sold my Subaru before I started working in Tromsø¹ and Annika’s Golf has no four-wheel-drive.

Suck!

Anyhow after today’s 11 o’clock meeting I took some hours off and took Annika’s car to the inland west from Umeå, where almost 50 cm of snow where forecasted for today. It was quite a rough car tour, both because of the visibility and the road conditions. I wanted to make photos but had to realise that in such intense snow weather there is hardly any place to park the car and it was impossible to see where the road ends and where the ditch begins.

Ok. One exception – here I could stop in a small side road.

Driving was slow and soon I realised that I wouldn’t reach my destination Tavelsjö before sundown. So I gave up my plans and headed back to Umeå. Everything was white and sometimes it was hard to see where the road was although all roads where already ploughed – probably several times. When I left the E12 near Kåddis I experienced the first (and only) road that hardly was ploughed. Sometimes I had to “swim” through deep snow drifts and I’m still surprised that I made it without being helplessly stuck.

Finally I reached Umeå where probably 30–40 cm of snow had fallen. All snow ploughs, tractors and people with snow shovels were working to get rid of the snow, while I looked more for the places, where snow was left and possibly untouched.

Now I’m home again and still hear the wind and see whirling snow through my window. How much snow has fallen here is impossible to say. While the snow drifts behind the house are at least 120 cm tall, other parts round the house have been blown completely free from snow.

So – no local records – but at least it’s a real winter. Nice!

_____

¹ Tromsø, a yes – wasn’t I supposed to work in Tromsø? Actually yes, but due to the covid-19 restrictions in Norway I’m still home in Sweden and without any clue when I will travel to Tromsø again. I will have missed the whole seven weeks of polar night but also one of Tromsø’s warmest and rainiest winters ever.

No winter bath today

Five days ago at Vitskärsudden, Annika’s and my favourite all-season bathing place looked like this:

Looks like bathing season would be over there soon, I thought but last night’s hard wind had crushed a lot of the sea ice along the coast. Annika and I packed our bathing things, wrapped ourselves up in warm winter clothes and headed to the beach for a winter bath.

Well, it didn’t look looked too promising, but I gave it a try. The first obstacle was the ice wall at the beach – at least half a metre high. Slowly I crossed it barefoot until with the last step the wall collapsed and I stood in the shallow water. Well, standing in water was part of the plan. Check.

Then a wave came. Not a huge one but nevertheless it covered me with sea spray from tip to toe. Brr! At the same time the wave pushed ice floes and crushed ice against my shin with more power than expected. The water was too shallow to knock me over but the sharp ice cut my shin on several places.

So I just shouted “Back!” to Annika in case of her making a try as well and instantly returned to the snowy beach to dry myself off and got dressed again. I’m glad, that I didn’t try it any longer. Probably I would have got so many cuts the I would look like a survivor of a piranha fight.

So – home again. No winter bath today.

Later I took the car to the same beach again to make some photographs. The pictures hardly transport the energy of the overlapping waves and the impression of wind and snowfall. Anyhow, here are some of the photos:

Was the action stupid? Well, perhaps. At least it wasn’t dangerous since we never planned to go into deeper water. So it’s more under to motto: “Another good idea that didn’t work!”

Two-digit minus temperatures

And suddenly, after some days with temperatures below -10 °C the Baltic Sea at our house has started to freeze over.

And suddenly even Vitskärsudden, the bay where Annika and I took a winter bath just two days ago is covered with ice, too.

Finally winter

December was an odd month regarding the weather. It was quite warm and extremely cloudy. There was hardly any sun and when it snowed it turned into sleet and rain. But at the turn of the year the weather finally changed. We got 10–15 cm of snow before New Year’s Eve, a short warmer period and then finally permanent frost. Right now, at the morning of 3 January the thermometer shows -12 °C.

Yesterday Annika and I made a short excursion to Strömbäck-Kont by the sea, where we took a promenade by the mostly open sea. It is 4 km linear distance to Strömbäck-Kont, but 30 km by car due to a long bay that separates the island Obbolaön where we live from the mainland in the west.

Some photos from our tour. The first 5 are made at Strömback-Kont, the other three in Degernäs on the way back.