GALLERY: Winter is around the corner

Pallastunturi winter / Credit: Paul Stevens

Winter is coming, but it will be a bit late. Sometime soon most if not all of Finland should get a covering of snow, transforming the landscape. The outlines of shapes and contours will soften, small bushes like bilberry and lingonberry will get buried in snow. Trees will have to bear the weight of up to several tonnes of snow, depending on their location.

Winter is a magical time. The nights are long, the days short, the light is soft, especially on the rare days when the sun shines. There is no heat haze to diffuse the sunlight and so the cold air is clearer. The low sun casts long shadows, giving definition to the patterns in snow and ice. Even on cloudy days there can be subtle shades in a winter landscape. If the trees are coated in only a thin layer of snow, the darker shades of green provide a subtle contrast to the pure white of snow.

Watching the sea freeze is a rare, but worthwhile experience. It happens on clear, still days when the temperature suddenly drops well below zero (-15 C is good) and the sea is still relatively warm. The sudden change in temperature cools the sea rapidly causing the warm water to visibly evaporate into the cold air taking the heat with it. Slowly ice spreads across the surface of the still water as the sea drops below zero.

But where is winter this year? Autumn so far has been much warmer, up to 5°C warmer in some parts of Finland, than the average temperature from weather records during 1980-2010. The reference period is a rolling 30-year period, so next year it will be 1981-2011. So, when you consider that the reference average temperatures come from recent history, it means we are having another exceptionally warm autumn. Even in Lapland winter has not truly arrived yet. Currently the only place in Finland with over 10 cm of snow is Kilpisjärvi.

Will winter arrive soon, perhaps it will, but for a meteorological winter to have arrived the average temperature needs to drop below zero. Certainly, some snow would be nice to brighten up the short, dull days of November and December.

This gallery comes from the lens of Espoo-based wildlife photographer Paul Stevens. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.