Northern Lapland’s snow situation

Published: 04.12.2018

Snow has kept the North waiting

This year the autumn has been especially warm, and snow has kept us waiting, even in the Northern Lapland. In Inari-Saariselkä area the first snow flakes were seen in early October, and at the end of November, it suddenly snowed some 10 centimeters in many Northern areas. Due to the prevailing weather type, some of that snow has melted, leaving slippery ice on roads and pavements. More snow is expected as the weather makes a turn to more wintry temperatures in the coming days.

During the first week of December, a great snowfall is expected and the temperatures are dropping well below freezing. At the moment outdoor resort Saariselkä has officially 9 centimetres of snow cover, and the whole Northern area of Inari and Utsjoki is covered in a snow layer too – somewhere thinner and at some places thicker. Annual variations of the arrival of permanent snow are normal and there are great differences among different areas of Finland, as can be seen in the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s snow statistics.

It is time for the Polar Night and Northern Lights

Polar Night is perhaps the most magical time of the year, and in the Far North, it goes on for about two months. Polar night is the time when the sun remains below horizon and the sky glows in blue and violet hues. In Utsjoki for instance the sun will rise above the horizon next time on 17th of January. The Finns call this time kaamos. This twilight is an excellent time for observing and photographing the Northern Lights. On average, Northern Lights can be seen in northernmost Lapland up to 200 nights a year – so almost every evening during the winter, provided that it is dark (checked!) and the sky is clear. Here is a great checklist on how to photograph the lights successfully.

Other than spotting Northern Lights, it is excellent time to explore the beautiful nature areas such as Urho Kekkonen National Park. Having little snow makes it particularly easy to roam around on the trails – either with or without snowshoes. Must-to-pack-item for all trips is a head torch as the darkness comes early in the afternoon! The cross-country ski tracks of Saariselkä are open and can be freely used, the ski track report can be found online here. There are many companies that rent out equipment for many different activities – fatbiking, skiing and snowshoeing for instance. In Inari-Saariselkä area guided winter activities are running in full speed despite the unusually low amount of snow. The tourism companies operating in Finnish Lapland are well prepared to deal with different weather and snow conditions, and will find alternative options for the activities, if conditions require.

During the Polar Night, the Northern Lights can be seen almost daily when the sky is clear.