Winter came early this year, confusing trees, still in full autumn bloom.
I discussed this with my colleagues, and apparently weather here is very unpredictable, and largely influenced by the Gulf Stream.
Despite being an arctic country situated at roughly the same latitude as Greenland, Northern Canada, and Siberia, the coastal temperatures in Norway are relatively mild. The temperature range is around 30 degrees (-5 in winter to +20 in summer), as opposed to its latitudinal neighbours, who see more extreme temperature variations of -40C in winter and +35c in summer.
Even up north, far inside the arctic circle, cities like Tromsø typically see winter temperatures only a few degrees below zero (albeit in complete darkness), unlike most of Canda, Russia, and the far east. But as a downside, summer in Norway, at least on the coast, remains cold. Last summer, average daytime temperature seemed to hover around 14C, equivalent to a nice winter day in Auckland.
In short, it’s all due to the Gulf Stream and the relatively warm waters it brings with it, which in turn evaporate casting warm air over Norway. The warm water is influenced in part by the Rocky Mountains in Canada, which release masses amounts of hot air that is absorbed into the sea. But there are also other factors to consider such as salinity of the water (determined by melting ice sheets in Greenland), the water currents, and the weather in other northern countries.
For this reason climate change is a real concern for Norwegians. Some theories suggest if the northern ice sheets melt, this will directly impact the gulf stream, changing its course, and removing the sheltering buffer, returning the Scandinavian Peninsula back to the fjord-carving inhospitable glacial ice-land.
Even minor changes can have a significant impact. A 1C variation over winter, marks the difference between a continuous white winter, and a dull, dark, and desolate rainy wetland instead.
However from a year to year basis, the gulf stream remains a chaotic system.
Nonetheless, some climatologists are predicting a warm winter this year, with an increased average temperature of 1.5C.
This is bad news for Bergen, and means rain. More rain. And just when you thought you have seen all the rain you can endure, some more just for good measure.
Three months with consecutive days of rain?
No problem. How about four?
Fortunately, real life so far suggests otherwise.
This weekend, late October, we had our first snowfall, six weeks earlier than last year.
I, of course, was childishly excited, while my colleagues rather annoyed, since they had not yet changed to winter tires.