Tag Archives: snow

Winter is Definitely Here

After a grey November, and dry December, we’d been hoping for a wee bit of snow for when my sister and family arrive on New Year’s Day.

Well, looks like Santa was listening and we’ve been on the Good list, as that’s what happened over Christmas. It’s been below -5C since Christmas Day, and we’ve had frost and snow since the 19th.

Two Types of Snow

Did you know there are two types of snow? Swedish snow and snowman-building snow. (That’s what we reckon anyway)

In the UK the snow tends to be wet. It is rain that has fallen and frozen as it falls. When it melts, which it does in the warmer days, it forms slush which then freezes at night when it gets cold again. This gives you that horrible slush and ice that is just a nightmare. Roads and pavements quickly become treacherous, black ice is common and the whole system grinds to a halt.

In Sweden, however, there is another type of snow – rarely seen in the UK (in my experience – yours may differ). Because the air temperature is so cold in the winter *any* moisture in the air is frozen. What this does is gives you the weird experience of sunny days, blue skies and snow falling. That is any moisture instantly freezing and falling as snow. The texture of the snow is weird to us Brits. It is dry snow. Think of a powder between icing sugar and caster sugar. It is super-dry. This means that it does not really stick and is really easy to deal with. It is simply swept to the side of the road by the snow ploughs. Any snow left on the road has the consistency of sand. It really is strange. It is also useless for making snowmen with as it has no moisture so won’t stick together – look – here is me showing you…

Oh how I hate hearing my own voice. Did you notice the ice-skater behind me on the lake? That is Lake Mälaren, which I think we have mentioned before. They were testing the thickness of the ice. We suspect that as a result of these tests the annual race was cancelled.

The Viking Race (Vikingarännet), the largest skating race in the world, was scheduled to take place on February 16th, but organizers pulled the plug after forecasts of more mild weather and temperatures above zero.

“This means that solid ice along the track will thin out and the surface will soften. This could result in conditions that put the skaters at risk, resulting in falls and injuries. In addition, the snow ploughs cannot move freely on the ice,” they said.

Around 3,000 ice skaters take to Lake Mälaren each year for the race, which follows an old Viking transportation route southwards from Uppsala to Stockholm, a distance of roughly 80 kilometres.

It has been interesting seeing how the Swedish deal with the snow. Admittedly we happen to have moved in a very mild winter. Everyone has been telling us how unusual it is. I found an interesting site showing averages of weather – this is Stockholm.

Probability of Snow Fall Being Reported in a Given Day
Probability of Snow Fall Being Reported in a Given Day

The cold season lasts from December 3 to March 6 with an average daily high temperature below 3°C. The coldest day of the year is February 14, with an average low of -8°C and high of -1°C.

Firstly the Swedish deal with the snow. The snow ploughs and gritters are out throughout the day. School paths are gritted, footpaths are gritted, the roads are gritted. You can frequently see piles of grit in residential areas that you can help yourself to to grit your path/drive.

Fresh snow fallen on the garden
Fresh snow fallen on the garden

Everyone owns a snow shovel and deals with their own snow.

On our street there is this sign:

Move yourcar on Fridays or your car will be ploughed...
Or your car will be ploughed…

Basically it means do not park on the road on a Friday during the Winter months. Why? Because the whole road is going to be ploughed. Any car left on the road will end up covered with/surrounded by snow. Like this one which had been left on the road just round the corner from our house. Whoops!

Looks like the snow plough team wanted to make a point
Looks like the snow plough team wanted to make a point
Someone didn't move their car for snow ploughing
Someone didn’t move their car for snow ploughing

Secondly the Swedish dress for the snow. Children are dressed head to toe in warm, waterproof clothes. We are talking boots, gloves/mittens, coat, hat, goggles, over-trousers – the works. At school they strip off and get on with their day. There is a wet area at school where they take their boots off. No mess inside thank-you. Then they strip the other layers off near their classroom. There is plenty of space to hang everything. When 3-4 months of the year are under snow you have to be prepared. I can only imagine what it is like further north. It is just a part of life here. No panic.


The chances of getting all 3 of ours out in snow in Scotland: limited. Here, though...
The chances of getting all 3 of ours out in snow in Scotland: limited. Here, though…

Adults wear boots, warm clothes, hats, gloves, big coats and gently steam on the T-Bana. The elderly can be seen using Nordic Poles. Everyone has good boots. Solid boots. If not then there are over-shoes you can use – not the rubber crampons I have seen in the UK but an actual rubber grippy shoe thing.

Finally, and most importantly, the Swedish are damn good at warming up. And no, I don’t mean like that… I mean like this…

Raspberry Baked Cheesecake and Hot Chocolate
Raspberry Baked Cheesecake and Hot Chocolate

Snow Day 7

The snow arrived in Sweden last weekend, having kept away all winter so far.

This is the view from our kitchen window with a few light flakes falling this morning.

Amazingly I’ve so far not managed to fall on my bum, despite wearing office shoes with next to no grip as all my better shoes have’t year arrived.

Things I have learned since moving to Sweden

It is Friday and I emigrated to Sweden on Monday. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster since then with the children leading the way as we find our feet in the local area and in the school system. We still have a huge way to go in finding our place but for now I am thrilled with how far we have come.

It has been interesting, however, and I have definitely learned some things about Swedish life. So now for your viewing pleasure, some of my observations:

    • It is illegal to park on the wrong side of the street. I.e. Facing the traffic. You must face the same way if stopping at the edge of a road.
    • The Swedes leave their Christmas lights up until the end of January. It makes the streets really pretty. All those lovely lights reflecting on the snow.
    • Christmas lights are all white/pale yellow. None of this brightly coloured trashy nonsense the UK seems to have developed. So much prettier.
    • Children play out in the snow, every day. Back in Scotland a snowy day was deemed to be unsuitable for outdoor play in case the children should slip and hurt themselves. Bless. What nonsense.
    • Your rubbish gets weighed.
    • The majority of Swedes speak beautiful English. It is embarrassing really.
    • All children ice-skate. DD starts next week! They are using the local football pitch which has been soaked in water and left to freeze. Awesome.
    • On our street you are not allowed to park your car on the road on a Friday as that is the day the gritter/snow plough comes down.