Sleet weather in Tromsø

Last night I was woken up my a crackling noise. I peeked out of my front door – everything was white. It was however not snowing but sleeting heavily and the ground was covered with zillions of small snow pellets.

This morning more sleet showers crossed Tromsø. I took a short promenade to the coast where the beaches where covered with snow pellets as well.

I would have loved to take the car to Kvaløya to places where it actually was cold enough for real and dry snow but my car still has summer tyres. I’m even not sure if I can make it to the appointment for tire change in two days or if the streets are too slippery to get there.

So I did not get real winter snow today but at least I spotted the first snowman. Or should I write snow pellet man?

Later the day sleet turned into wet snow with the result, that the streets are covered now with 5 cm of wet slush.

Mai snow in Tromsø

2 May – shall it be spring soon?

With melting snow, slush and strawberries (from the Netherlands)?

Yesterday, 3 May – no.

Today, 4 May – definitely no!

8 cm of fresh snow fell over night. Beside the roads there’s even a layer of crusty, old snow.

If the weather forecast is right, a lot of rain will wash the snow away, but not before the weekend. Let’s see, how long you have to read those “still snow”articles, but when there’s snow, I’ll post about snow.

A late winter ski tour

It has snowed the whole week and yesterday I finally took the opportunity to do a ski tour in the mountains. Since I’m not a downhill skier I chose the Fløyfjellet area on the mainland. There it is hilly, but not steep and you can take the cable car Fjellheisen to Storsteinen (421 m). The four-minute ride is expensive but worth it.

I’ve been there several times but never with skis.

I put on the skins and go outside. What are these funny snowed in thingies? The left one could be a slide. I remember the playground here. And behind that? Is it not a fence but a swing!? So much snow?

Note: Yes, it’s a slide and a swing. I found an older photo of mid-October 2020 for comparison.

I start my tour at Fjellstua, the mountain station of the cable car. It has stopped snowing and the sun comes out. I pass Steinbøhytta. It looks quite snowed in, but this cabin is built into the mountain.

Navigation to Fløya is easy when it’s clear because of the huge waymark with the wind vane. The summit itself is marked with the typical stone heap.

It’s just 12 o’clock when I reach Fløya and I continue skiing south. I am completely alone and beside of snow and some small, isolated rocks there is not much to see.

It starts snowing and gradually the snow fall intensifies until the visibility is between 50 and 100 metres. Not much in a snowy landscape. I see a small single rock, but nothing more.

Where is Bønntuva (or Romssavákkivárri), the next summit? I use compass and the Varsom app for navigation but I zigzag a bit anyhow. I realise that I go uphills. A good sign, when you want on a mountain. I’m almost at the top when I see the waymark. It’s a large but shallow pile of stones, almost completely snowed in. Time for a “summit selfie” and a break.

And then – all of the sudden – the clouds disappear and the sun comes out and instead of 50 m visibility it’s 15 kilometres and more.

After a short break I ski further south. Here I meet the first other people, two touring skiers. I enjoy the sun, the calmness, the view, the colours while skiing a long circle back.

And soon the next snow appears. As fast as the sky cleared up visibility is very poor again and I have some difficulties navigating again.

I head west and then north again. The snow depth is 50-60 cm in average and my skis sink 15–20 cm into the snow with every step. Visibility has become much better again but everything looks dull in the grey, snowy weather. I’m exhausted. Time to take a break.

Still an hour to go, but at least it goes mostly downhills. Step. Step. Step. Looking up. Step. Step. Step.

Not far from the station I meet three women. They sit on huge camping mats in the snow and are cooking something. Their skis stuck in the snow and serve as a backrest. This looks cosy! We exchange a few words, then I continue. When I arrive at the mountain station I take a souvenir photo of Tromsøya. Ten minutes later I stand in the cable car on my way down. Five minutes later I stand by my car and stop the parking because this is expensive as well.

In the center of Tromsø it is thaw and a mixture of wet snow, soft ice and brown slush covers ways and roads. I’m glad that I had this wonderful day in the mountains though photo motives were a bit rare due to the poor visibility. Now I think it would be a good time for spring!

April snow in Tromsø

On Monday evening, the 25 April it started to snow.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

On Tuesday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

Still some flowers peeked through the snow.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

On Wednesday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

Some heavy snow squalls covered everything with snow.

In the evening I took a winter bath at the beach of Telegrafbukta and then took a photo of the snow figure by the stairs.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Yesterday on Thursday it was snowing and temperatures were below zero.

It was fun to kayak through the snow after work.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Today on Friday it has been snowing and temperatures have been (mostly) below zero.

The snowflakes have become thicker.

This afternoon snow depth was 25–30 cm. The snow figure was snowed in to the neck and the stairs have disappeared in the snow.

Thursday, 19 Mai 2022 …

In 20 days there will be the first polar day. Then the sun does not set for more than seven weeks. Midnight sun!

Summer is near but incredibly well hidden.

 

The first Thursday paddling in Tromsø

Today was the first torsdagspadling (Thursday paddling) of the Tromsø havpadleklubb, one of the two large kayak associations in Tromsø. Now we have enough light in the evening that you can take tours after work and it’s not so cold anymore. Well, kind of …

While it is not my first kayak tour this year – I paddled for example four weeks ago in Sweden– it is my first one in Tromsø and most of all the first one with others. We were nine paddlers today, eight experienced kayakers and me, the beginner. Fortunately the tempo was low and wind and waves were not demanding. So I could follow without any problems.

First everything went wrong. I could not book a kayak in the internet. Then I could reserve it but not pay it. Then one zipper of my neoprene boots was jammed. Then I could not close my drysuit zipper. Then I lost a part of my waterproof iPhone bag. Then I could not find my woollen cap. And so on. And so on. But with a lot of help of my fellow paddlers I finally was on the water. And luckily someone remembered me to attach the spray deck. (In Sweden I hardly use it.)

Oh – so nice to paddle again!

It took perhaps 15 minutes until we were right in the first snow shower. Not unexpected, since it had been snowing in Tromsø for three days now and we have subzero temperatures and at least 20 cm of snow on the ground. It was so beautiful with the sun peeking through holes in the clouds while the snow was falling.

But between the showers the sun came out.

Until the next shower. Now we were quite near the bay Telegrafbukta which is in the direct neighbourhood of my apartment. There I had taken a winter bath yesterday (water: 3.5 °C), now we approached it by kayak. We slowed down a bit – time for discussing paddle technique or to go ashore and re-adjust the footrests.

We did not go on land because the weather was not too inviting. So we paddled back against the sun and through a new snow shower. This time the wind increased a bit and we got even some waves on our way back.

Round two hours and eight or nine kilometres later we arrived at the club houses of the Tromsø havpadleklubb. Time to dry the kayaks, put them back and change to more civil clothes.

Takk for turen – thanks for the tour – I’ll be there next Thursday!

Farewell winter 2022?

This evening Annika and I will take the night train to Göteborg. We will meet close friends and spend the Easter week in Southern Sweden where we probably will meet spring. So it’s probably time for me to say farewell to winter.

I was honoured. Winter dropped by personally to say farewell today. The gifts: Strong winds and at least twenty centimetres of snow. First I worked a bit but then Annika and I took a winter promenade to our Vitskärsudden, our favourite beach.

Some hours later I dug out the car. We’ll need it later. It had already become warmer and the snow was wet and heavy. So winter didn’t come to stay but I was glad about its farewell.

 

I walk to work

Back in Tromsø I decided to walk to work this week. 2½ km to the Norwegian Polar Institute in the Framsenteret and 2½ km back home. So I get at least a bit of motion each day. And a bit of outdoor feeling, too.

Monday, 17 January

It has snowed quite a bit the night and is still snowing. It’s -4 °C and the wind is calm. It’s fun to trudge through the powder snow.

Lunch time. We get the table by the panoramic window. Some boat owners clear the landing of the marina from snow.

Tuesday, 18 January

-3 °C and snow fall again but now the wind is stronger and squally. Luckily I have it in the back.

It gets warmer the whole day and it starts to rain. Wet ice and deep puddles on my way back.

Wednesday, 19 January

+2 °C, a bit of rain. Rubber boots, slush, ice, water puddles.

Thursday, 20 January

-1 °C and fresh snow.

I don’t trust the snow. I know that ice and slush lurk beneath the surface. Therefore I wear rubber boots again with attached spikes to avoid slipping on the wet ice. The gloves protect against the wind, the reflective wristbands with the blinking LEDs and the high visibility vest against not being seen by car drivers. No cyclists the last days.

Friday, 21 January

-6 °C, almost like winter. The canteen invites to “sun buns” and cacao because it is “soldagen”, the day where the sun is finally visible in Tromsø again after 8 weeks. Unfortunately clouds block the low hanging sun.

This weekend I won’t see the sun neither. We got warm weather and storm and unfortunately a lot of rain. So I’ll probably keep myself mostly inside.

 

A winter journey from home to work

Last Saturday I travelled to work. ObbolaTromsø, that’s round 1000 km – the reason why I do not commute weekly.  This time it is a bit suspenseful, because there are two obstacles on my way.

One obstacle is easy: taking a covid test at the test center. The other is much bigger: The road over the Bjørnfjell – the only road – has been closed for many hours due to stow storm conditions. Well, I start my journey anyhow. We’ll see.

At 5:30 in the morning Annika takes me to the train station in Umeå. The first 9½ hours were just a “normal” train journey beside of the train being mostly ahead of time. One change in Boden – nothing special, just long and a bit boring.

I leave the train in Abisko Turiststation where I parked my car. My car – will I find it or is it submerged under a pile of snow? To my relief hardly any snow covers my car. I already hoped so, because Abisko is known for its low precipitation because mountains in the west protect it from bad weather. Much more snow and rain fall on the other side of the mountain range and that’s exactly where I have to go through. Some minutes after leaving Abisko behind it starts snowing. Snowfall increased more and more but isn’t severe and the Swedish mountain road is open. Soon I cross the Norwegian border and …

… have to stop because of a lowered tollgate with a red blinking light. Beside of two trucks I am alone. I am relaxed because I know that the road has been opened for driving in convoy one hour ago (thanks internet!). I just have to wait for the large snowplough to fetch us.

After twenty minutes the tollgate went up and the red light goes out. That’s all that happens. I hesitate. And now? Do I have to wait? Or may I drive? I don’t dare and ask one of the Norwegian truck drivers. He answers I should just go ahead and so I do. The drive is snowy but not bad and soon I arrive at Bjørnfjell brøytestasjonen where the snowploughs are located and now also the Covid19 registration. I register myself, get a covid test and start taking photos while waiting for the result.

I take an image of a snowed in car. The snow plough driver goes to me and asks for what purposes I take photos. “Just for my blog.” “Ah ok, just curious.” Good to talk to him, because so I learn that beside of the mountain passage behind Bjerkvik road conditions are good. Here they got a lot of snow the last 24 hours and one of the cars looks like this:

After round 20 minutes I get a ping ♪. It’s an SMS with a link to my test result. Negative :-). 260 km to go, that’s four hours when conditions were good.

The first 100 km the road conditions are good and weather is ok. The next photo shows how driving looks like.

The next hour it snows a lot. Sight is still good. To my left and right everything is covered with snow, from the largest church to the smallest branch of a tree. Winter wonderland.

Then it starts to get nasty. Snowfall intensifies more and more and the snow has the consistence of superglue. My windscreen wipers hardly manage to push away the gluey snow and finally I have to turn into a side road and de-ice the wipers. Scratch, scratch … . I’m not alone. In front of me a car with a driver doing the same. Behind me another car stops. Am I in the way? No, just another scratch, scratch. On the other side of the side road another one.

I still have some holes to peek through but it is extremely tiring to drive car through the night like that. Alas, after two hours I drive over the large concrete bridge Tromsøbrua and am on the island Tromsøya. Apparently Tromsø’s snow removal has given up. The minor roads are covered with 20 cm of snow with deep tyre tracks. I understand more and more why most Norwegians have cars with all-wheel drive (and so have I).

22:45. I make a last stop at the supermarket nearby that is open until 23:00. I’m lucky because Norwegian supermarkets close on Sundays. By the way: the supermarket’s parking place is in much better condition than the roads.

One other minute driving and I arrive at my flat in Tromsø after 17½ hours travelling. I’m tired but it takes another hour until I’m relaxed enough to sleep. Next week I’ll walk …

Fresh snow in Tromsø

Since yesterday evening I am back in my “work town” Tromsø. How I got here after 17 hours of travelling is another story. I only mention that it among others had to do with snow.

And snow we got in Tromsø as well. Round 30 cm of fresh, clean snow cover the ground, the houses, the trees and build fields of slush in the shallow parts of the sea.

These photos are from a short promenade from Telegrafbukta and Sydspissen.