Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The frustrating art of predicting Finnish weather

If there has been one thing that I have learned after living in southern Finland for nearly two years, it would be the unpredictable nature of the weather.  The first winter we lacked snow in December (2011) and didn't have a white Christmas and everyone complained.   I guess the snow gods woke up because the rest of the winter brought loads of snow and by April people were wishing for spring.  Then the 2012 summer arrived or did it?  May was pretty decent, then June rolled around and the rain started.  I had mentioned to a good friend of mine that Midsummer (summer solstice) would be the best time to visit Finland.  You would think late June with its eternal sunshine would also be the safest chance for good weather on a visit to Finland.  Wrong!   I took him and his family to Linnanmäki amusement park on a rainy day.
At the park the umbrellas came out, but the rides didn't stop.  This is Finland and here people just go on with their days.  We made the best out of the day and enjoyed our time at the amusement park despite the conditions.  Looking on the bright side, the rain meant the ride lines were about half the size of normal.  Spring 2012 was promising, but the summer was one of the coolest that locals could remember and that had everyone complaining and thinking that they needed to get out of Finland for the next summer (2013).

The year flew by and then again old man winter was upon us again.  The winters in Finland can seem a bit like Bill Murray's character in "Groundhog's Day". This time a blizzard came during the final weekend of November dumping snow everywhere. Snow came a month earlier this winter and assured everyone of a magical white Christmas that was sorely missed the prior year.  The winter of 2012-2013 turned out even longer and brought more snow than many had imagined.  The final snow storm didn't arrive till the first week in March and the snow lasted on the ground until just about May this year.  It was quite a long and cold winter.  Interesting enough, March 2013 had many days around -10 Celsius (15 F) and was considered the coldest March in 50 years.  April was still a bit cool and then Vappu (May 1st "May Day") came.  Vappu wasn't that warm, but since it was sunny it was deemed a success.  Which brings us to Mother's Day (May 12, 2013), the day I wrote this post.  What can I say, yesterday it was 22 Celsius in Espoo (71 F) and it is predicted (if one can actually predict weather in Finland) to be quite warm next week, with temps rising past 23 C (73 F) by the end of the week.  Surprisingly enough, this little warm streak in early to mid May will perhaps make it a much warmer month than last June of 2012.  May, June, July, August.  In Finland these months could be cold or warm, stormy, or sunny, you just never really know.  The summers in Finland can be outstanding, but they are typically short and sweet.  According to the calendar summer is from June 20th - September 22nd, but in my mind, I would have to say Finland's "summer" is July 1st - August 15th, plus or minus a week on either side.  :)  So after suffering through 4-5 straight months of cold, snow and ice, the pay back is 1-2 months of summer.  Now you can understand why Finns cherish the long, warm summer days.  That is life at latitude 60' North, and one should never have any expectations about the weather because it will be an exercise in frustration.  The key to happiness and success here is just to go about your day and forget about the weather and the predictions.

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