It is cold. We had the first snowfall of the season during the last weekend of October: 4 days straight of snowfall. According to our home-made weather station (see picture above), and to the official forecast (not pictured above), we had a total of 45cm (or 18in) of snow! So it really is not only my lower-latitude Mexican self – the Arctic winter has started in Tromsø for real.
To Tromsø locals, this blizzard did not seem to be a big deal. No closures of any kind, and life just seemed to go on as normal. Evan was slightly confused about all the snow, but then he quickly began to enjoy the rides downhill in his sled, and even calls this fun activity “weeee”. We continued – and continue – to bike (even with Evan), cautiously of course. Now our bikes are equipped with studded tires. Only a very few streets were plowed, and the ski trails were too!! Tromsø city seems to have fun priorities and we were down with these. I even had a chance to refresh my skate skiing skills one evening after work.
The days following the snowfall, however, were not fun at all for commuting. We got back to above freezing air temperatures and with just a little rainfall, the streets quickly became a miserable layer of slush over a layer of ice that made it horrible to bike or walk on: dangerously slippery either way, especially in the steep streets, or those with no sidewalks or sidewalks buried in the snow. Yet, biking still proved to be faster than walking – both uphill and downhill. And certainly in these conditions I was not going fast at all… it felt just as if I was down-hill mountain biking in warm and dry weather. To those who do not know of my mountain biking skills, this may help explain: a few years ago during a trip to Oaxaca in southern Mexico, Greg took a video of me mountain-biking downhill, which really appeared to be taken in slow motion. Nope, it was real time. I was genuinely worried about falling and tearing an ACL again. He was genuinely surprised I still had brakes left afterward.
Anyway, today we are well into the second half of November, and we are back to below freezing temperatures (around 20F), more consistently so, for now. Lots of fresh snow are packed in all around, and now I am honestly hoping it stays this cold (never thought I would say this) so that we remain slush-on-top-of-ice–free for as long as possible.
It’s also getting darker and darker. We are losing about 15 minutes of day-length every day, which makes it more important to enjoy the sunny 2 or 2.5 -hr days (today sunrise was at 10am, sunset at 1pm). We will be completely free of daylight around November 27th, and the sun will not rise again in Tromsø (for at least 1 hr) until mid-January. Needless to say, the city looks beautiful, even with this long twilight and shorter daylight. I am honestly excited for the polar night season. Let it stay cold and the snow stay or continue to get packed in so we can start skiing on a regular basis!