As the trees slowly shed their leaves, snow is already starting to cover Turku. Even though it is already melting and probably won’t stay much longer, here is some info on snow in Turku, how to adapt to its arrival, and how to make the best of it.
Not all types of snow are born equal. For those who have already spent a winter in a Nordic country, this won’t be news but it nevertheless represents relevant information for a number of reasons. Wet and heavy snow, usually found when the thermometer hovers around 0°C, is quite different from the sand-like snow from a snowstorm when temperature drops under -10°C.
Although false, the myth that Inuktitut (the language spoken by Innu people in the north of Canada) has more than 50 words for snow has roots in reality. Different types of snow, as well as their combinations, are extremely diverse and will affect how one should prepare to cope with the weather conditions. For more on this, I recommend reading more on snowflakes and the different shapes they can take (which influences the type of snow they make).
Now that we know what we are talking about, time to talk about how to adapt to wintery conditions.
Wearing a warm hat, gloves, shoes, scarf, socks, and a good winter coat will allow one to almost completely ignore snow. When well equipped, I personally consider snow a lesser annoyance than rain, since it much easier to remove from items of clothing.
Rookie mistakes include using an umbrella, not gearing up properly (including, for instance, using a hat that doesn’t cover one’s ears), or simply underestimate the cold. Thin leather jackets or gloves, for example, won’t be enough in most cases.
A classic strategy to cope with colder or windier weather is the onion-layer method. This method simply consists of wearing different layers of clothing to increase insulation. Doubling socks or gloves can provide an excellent level of protection against the cold, while not requiring the purchase of expensive winter clothes.
Walking remains a safe option, but biking or driving become quite different when you add snow.
Snow can both represent an obstacle in itself, or hide some bad surprises (usually ice). As a result, a key element of snow-biking (or walking, for that matter) is to be careful and pay extra attention to the road. Braking suddenly and too hard is to avoid as much as possible. The same is true for sharp turns, which can quickly result in a bad fall. Overall, caution is paramount, even with winter tires or studded shoes.
On the bright side, falling in a snowbank is preferable to the hard ground.
N.B.: As days grow shorter, it is essential to have bike lights when travelling during the dark hours. Not having bike lights can mean a 40 euros fine for those caught by the police.
Now that snow will become a regular feature of weather forecasts, we shouldn’t forget to mention its good sides. Apart from the beautiful landscapes it creates, a good snowfall is also a great opportunity to try some winter sports.
Closer to the student village, there is also a number of good spots for sledging (here is a personal favorite).
Those, however, are only few of the things that make snow such a nice part of winter.
Enjoy while it lasts
South-West Finland is not known for it’s harsh winters. For better or for worse, snow usually does not last too long, except maybe a few weeks in January and February. As a result, those eager to try winter sports or simply to enjoy the beauty of snowy landscapes should make the best of the few snowy weeks we might have this winter.
As for those wishing for the snow to disappear, there is no reason to worry. It did snow last year as late as the 9th of May, but thankfully this is quite unusual. Most years, the last snowfall takes place in March or April.
- For snow to stay, the ground needs to be frozen deep enough not to melt it. This is one of the reasons early snowfalls usually melt quickly.
- During the coldest days of winter, a snowfall normally results in bringing the temperature up a little (e.g. from -15 to -5).
- Winter thunderstorms can happen, even though they are highly uncommon.
- Do not eat snow, especially if its yellow.