Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Long Cold Snap

It was exactly 2 months ago that we parked our car at the airport and went back to the UK for Christmas. That night, it snowed heavily and when we came back to Norway three weeks later, we found the car encased in a thick layer of icy snow that took about an hour to clear before we could drive away.

The chart above from the Norwegian weather site shows that the temperature has been around 2 degrees cooler than normal throughout the last 2 months, hovering mainly somewhere below freezing. Lakes have frozen and the snow that fell on 17th December has been with us now for 2 months, occasionally augmented by further light falls. Mainly it has been very dry and cold, which is unusual for an area that is close to the sea and which has been often wet and cloudy in recent years. Back on the 1st Feb the Stavanger Aftenblad was already announcing a record winter with the longest spell of snow since 1952.

At the weekend, we went up into the hills to go skiing. It was very dramatic. The waterfalls on either side of the valley up which we travelled to Sirdal are frozen solid, white cataracts, mysteriously petrified. The rocks on either side of the valley are rather black against the snow and sometimes there are curtains of long icicles glittering by the roadside. In places the valleys we drive through are incredibly steep-sided U-shaped valleys formed by glaciers. They rise up so high that you feel as if the mountains are trying to curl their craggy fingers over the top of you.

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